Freddie Pargetter got off lightly. He has no reasonable prospects of appealing his 12 month sentence

Regina v. Frederick Pargetter



  1. I have been asked to advise Mr Pargetter on his prospects of successfully appealing against a 12 month sentence of detention in a young offenders’ institution, imposed by Her Honour Judge Langford at the Borsetshire Crown Court on 28th September 2018.

The Facts

  1. Unfortunately those instructing have neither invited me onto the digital case system nor supplied me with a full set of prosecution papers, and I have seen only a short extract from HHJ Langford’s sentencing remarks. Nor, despite my repeated requests, have they supplied me with a copy of the pre-sentence report. I do not even know whether his plea was entered on any particular agreed basis. I understand the pressures that many rural solicitors are under, but this is a disappointing level of service from a once well-respected Ambridge firm which perhaps ought to reconsider its commitment to criminal work if it cannot provide a proper service. Nevertheless, piecing together the information that I do have as best I can, the position seems to be as set out below.

  2. In August of this year Mr Pargetter was arrested at a “stag” party on suspicion of possessing about 25 tablets of drugs with intent to supply. Those instructing have been characteristically vague about what drugs these were, although it may not in fact be of huge significance given that they were unquestionably Class A. For the purposes of this advice I shall assume that they were methylenedioxymethamphetamine, otherwise known as MDMA or, more colloquially, “ecstasy”. Further investigation revealed that Mr Pargetter had been supplying a number of users for financial gain over the course of several months. It is unclear whether he faced charges in relation to past supply or merely a single count of possession with intent to supply.

  3. When questioned by the police Mr Pargetter at first claimed that the drugs were for his personal use, but he appears to have accepted at an early stage that he did in fact intend to supply them, and that he had been doing so, for financial gain, for several months.

  4. There does not appear to have been any investigation made of his benefit under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He should count himself fortunate in that respect, at least.

Assistance to the police

  1. An unusual feature of the case is that some two days before the sentencing hearing Mr Pargetter voluntarily went to the police station, accompanied by a representative from those instructing, and revealed that his previous drug supplying had been on a larger scale than the police had appreciated, or that he had originally admitted. No additional charges appear to have resulted from this frank disclosure. He also revealed to the investigating officers the identity of the person from whom he had bought drugs, apparently a young man called “Ellis” who is apparently a significant supplier of Class A drugs in Borsetshire. As a result of this assistance, I understand that the police supplied Judge Langford with a “text” confirming that Mr Pargetter had given them material assistance. In the normal course of events this should have been reflected in a lower sentence than if the assistance had not been given.

  2. The principle is well-established and was set out by the Lord Chief Justice in R v. A [1999] 1 Cr. App. R. (S.) 52:

It has been the long-standing practice of the courts to recognise by a further discount of sentence the help given, and expected to be given, to the authorities in the investigation, detection, suppression and prosecution of serious crime: see, for example, Sinfield (1981) 3 Cr.App.R.(S.) 258 , King (1985) 7 Cr.App.R.(S.) 227 , Sivan (1988) 10 Cr.App.R.(S.) 282 . The extent of the discount will ordinarily depend on the value of the help given and expected to be given. Value is a function of quality and quantity. If the information given is unreliable, vague, lacking in practical utility or already known to the authorities, no identifiable discount may be given or, if given, any discount will be minimal. If the information given is accurate, particularised, useful in practice, and hitherto unknown to the authorities, enabling serious criminal activity to be stopped and serious criminals brought to book, the discount may be substantial. Hence little or no credit will be given for the supply of a mass of information which is worthless or virtually so, but the greater the supply of good quality information the greater in the ordinary way the discount will be. Where, by supplying valuable information to the authorities, a defendant exposes himself or his family to personal jeopardy, it will ordinarily be recognised in the sentence passed. For all these purposes, account will be taken of help given and reasonably expected to be given in the future.

  1. It would have been open to the Crown Prosecution Service to invite Mr Pargetter to enter into a formal agreement under S.73 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. This might, for example, have contained Mr Pargetter’s agreement to continue to assist the Borestshire Police in their investigations. Had this course been followed then although the learned judge would not have been required to disclose the fact of the agreement in open court, she would, under S.73 (3) & (4) have had to supply Mr Pargetter with a notice setting out what the sentence would have been but for any discount she applied as a result of his assistance to the police. Since no such S.73 agreement was made, the learned judge was under no statutory duty to produce such a notice, and she does not appear to have done so.

  2. As the Court of Appeal made clear in Chaudhury [2009] EWCA Crim 2485, the “text” procedure is still available where the parties choose not to make a S.73 agreement but “save in unusual circumstances, the sentencing discount would be … less for those who adopted the text regime than for those who followed the statutory regime.” Mr Pargetter’s sentence might have been more lenient had the statutory procedure been followed; on the other hand there may be good reasons why he preferred not formally to commit himself to future co-operation with the authorities.

  3. Needless to say, those instructing have not supplied me with a copy of the text, or indeed with any real indication of the attitude of Borsetshire Police and CPS to the assistance provided by Mr Pargetter, or with any explanation as to why he adopted this procedure rather than attempting to formulate a S.73 agreement.

Sentencing Guidelines

  1. There are statutory sentencing guidelines for the supply and possession with intent to supply of controlled drugs. Since Mr Pargetter was 18 at the time of sentence, these guidelines apply.

  2. The relevant sentencing guideline applicable to Mr Pargetter’s case depends upon two factors:

(a) The category of “harm” (ranging from 1 to 4, with 1 being the most serious); and

(b) The “culpability” determined by Mr Pargetter’s role.

  1. So far as “harm” is concerned, whilst a quantity of 25 tablets of ecstasy would normally fall into Category 4, the guidelines say that “where the offence is selling directly to users (“street dealing”) the category is not based on a quantity.” Street dealing – even in the rural lanes around Ambridge – is a Category 3 offence.

  2. Culpability depends upon which role out of “leading.” “significant” or “lesser” Mr Pargetter played. Since he was “motivated by financial gain” in my view this places him in a “significant” role.

  3. The guidelines suggest a “starting point” for someone playing a significant role in a Category 3 offence: it is 4 years and 6 months.

  4. It is then necessary to consider any aggravating or mitigating factors. None of the (admittedly non-exhaustive) “aggravating factors” set out in the sentencing guidelines applied. This was not a case, for example, involving supply to children, or to other vulnerable people. There was no evidence that the drugs supplied by Mr Pargetter were either of “particularly high purity” or “cut with harmful substances.” The offence was not committed while Mr Pargetter was on bail or on licence. On the other hand there were a number of mitigating features, including Mr Pargetter’s lack of previous convictions, his evident remorse and his comparative youth, all of which ought to have been reflected in a significant reduction in the sentence.

  5. Most importantly, Mr Pargetter’s early guilty plea entitled him to a reduction of one third in the length of prison sentence which would otherwise have been imposed.

  6. The learned judge said in her sentencing remarks (after noting Mr Pargetter’s previous good character and excellent reference from his previous college Deputy Principal):

I must take into account Mr Pargetter’s privileged background. Which would suggest he dealt in drugs simply because he could. He is not someone who needed to do it for financial gain or any other purpose which I am able to discern. It was entirely his own choice. Having dealt with a number of such cases previously, I have to say that I find this form of drug dealing the most inexcusable. With no purpose other than self-gratification, it is both reckless and uncaring of the consequences for its victims.”

  1. I am troubled by the learned judge’s reference to Mr Pargetter’s “privileged background,” and indeed to the implication that his offence would have been less serious had he “needed to do it for financial gain.” Financial necessity would very rarely, if ever, be considered mitigation for supplying drugs, and for the same reasons, the learned judge fell into error by appearing to regard Mr Pargetter’s “privileged background” as an aggravating feature. Nor is it clear what the learned judge meant by “I find this form of drug dealing the most inexcusable.” Mr Pargetter’s dealing did not involve, for example, the exploitation of children or anyone particularly vulnerable. Instead of making any explicit reference to the sentencing guidelines she gave the appearance of having taken almost capriciously against Mr Pargetter because of his “privileged” background.

  2. Nevertheless, even if the learned judge’s sentencing remarks indicated that she took into account an improper consideration, the Court of Appeal would, ultimately, only interfere with Mr Pargetter’s sentence if it took the view that it was “wrong in principle” or “manifestly excessive.” Having regard to the sentencing guidelines, a custodial sentence was obviously correct in principle.

  3. Was it manifestly excessive? Assuming the judge reduced Mr Pargetter’s sentence by one third for his guilty plea, this would indicate that but for the plea she would have passed a sentence of 18 months imprisonment. Given that the guideline starting point for a Category 3 offence by someone playing a significant role is 54 months imprisonment, that suggests that the learned judge, despite her rather eccentric sentencing remarks, did in fact give substantial credit for the mitigating factors. Indeed, the bottom of the suggested sentencing range for such an offence before credit for a guilty plea is 42 months, equivalent after a guilty plea to 28 months. Mr Pargetter’s sentence, in fact, equates to a Category 4 offence committed by someone in a lesser role.

  4. On the face of it, therefore, a 12 month sentence is clearly not manifestly excessive. Furthermore, even though it is impossible to discern the precise reduction that the learned judge gave as a result of his assistance to the police, it is fairly clear that it must have been substantial.

A suspended sentence?

  1. Any sentence of imprisonment or detention in a young offenders’ institute of 2 years or less can be suspended. The learned judge gave no explanation as to why she chose not to suspend this sentence, although her remarks about Mr Pargetter’s “privileged background” perhaps suggest one possibility. However, given that the sentence imposed is already considerably shorter than that which I would have expected, any appeal based on the argument that she should have suspended the sentence is extremely unlikely to succeed.

  2. Based on the admittedly somewhat incomplete information that I have been given, I regard any attempt by Mr Pargetter to appeal against his sentence as unarguable and doomed to fail.

  3. If those instructing would care to supply me with a full set of papers then I will, of course, be happy to reconsider this advice.

Pump Court Chambers                             Matthew Scott

October 1st 2018

Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

22 thoughts on “Freddie Pargetter got off lightly. He has no reasonable prospects of appealing his 12 month sentence”

    1. If so that might be an aggravating feature, though only if the students were significantly younger. I don’t think supplying his own year group, even if some were under 18, would really count.

  1. Interesting and thought-provoking comments, Matt, but ever so slightly selective I fear.

    The Guidelines are clear on factors that should be placed in the balance, and amongst those are the offender’s “age and maturity” (as well as their “family circumstances”, which perhaps explains Her Honour’s references to Mr P’s background).

    It is clear just how serious the offence in question is, as reflected in the immediate imposition of a custodial sentence, despite the admissions made, and the absence of any ‘previous’.

    Whilst Crown Court advocates tend to be sadly blasé about young offenders, judges (and even the magistrates you loathe so much) are necessarily alert to the evidence about age and maturity on offending behaviours, and will always throw this into the mix when assessing the appropriate sentence.

    1. Who says I loathe magistrates? I don’t think summary trials tend to be very fair, admittedly, but that’s nothing to do with loathing the beaks. Not usually anyway.

      Yes, some judges, quite a few probably, would have suspended the sentence. That’s quite different from saying that Judge Langford’s failure to do so was wrong in principle, or appealable.

      1. OK, Matthew, just point me to a single post in which you have ever said anything positive about the magistracy. Or to make it even easier, a single time you’ve mentioned magistrates in a way that doesn’t include a disparaging side-swipe at them (and/or their judicial function).

  2. I was slightly surprised to hear in the judge’s summary remarks about his ‘privileged background’ that no account was taken of the traumatic effects of his father’s tragic death falling of the family home roof during a family gathering.

    I wonder if this was conveyed by the defence and taken account of in the social enquiry report. It might have been useful for the defence to instruct a psychologist on this which might have revealed some hidden traumatic disorder thus possibly tipping the balance towards a suspended sentence or some other community sentence with the prospect of ‘treatment’.

    Can you advise?

    1. Almost certainly it wasn’t mentioned by Mr Pargetter’s pretty useless defence team. However appeals based on the incompetence of the original defence face an uphill struggle.

  3. you freely admit you don’t have all the information, i.e. DISCLOSURE, so it stinks… doing the ‘work’ you have done on it just makes YOU a part of the problem. Do you even have the victims consent? Doubt u even bothered to ask

      1. do they fuck…whenever have they ever done that whilst still continuing to confirm or deny if they know who they are?

  4. String ‘em up, that’s what I say. Then hold a trial.

    Or as in The Hunting of the Snark:

    Transportation for life, and then to be fined fifty pounds.

      1. If you mean me, Jake, I am neither. I am a Urinary Extractor. A Taker of the Piss.

        You by contrast are an Excessive Insider. You should get out more!

  5. A lot depends on the MDA classification of the substance in question. Considering that Freddie was offering them to Kenton as an aid to staying awake, it seems unlikely that it was Ecstasy; amphetamines seem more likely. This would give us a starting-point in Class B, not A.

    Moreover, my understanding was that Freddie wasn’t motivated by financial gain – at least, his defence could have made a very good case that somebody in his position would be able to tap his Mum and therefore wouldn’t be so motivated – which would give us Lesser culpability.

    The sentencing range for Lesser culpability with a Cat 3 offence of supplying Class B drugs runs from a low level community order to 26 weeks’ custody. Given the guilty plea and the clear mitigating factors (first offence, good character, remorse, co-operation) I hardly think Freddie’s offence deserves anything harsher than a high-level community order.

    The judge’s sentencing remarks suggest that she recognised both Freddie’s previous good character and his (putative) lack of motivation by financial gain (qua rich brat who doesn’t actually need the money), but incorrectly regarded the first as an aggravating rather than a mitigating factor, and the second as increasing rather than reducing Freddie’s culpability. (It may be relevant that the twelve-month sentence given is the starting-point for Significant culpability in a Category 3, Class B offence.) Whether that’s appealable I wouldn’t care to guess, but it certainly seems like an error in law. Hopefully Gupta and Hebden (Deceased) will get on the case.

    1. Yes, I quite agree that if it was Class B drugs then 12 months is appealable The judge wouldn’t even have given proper credit for plea. It would help if someone could clarify the point.

      1. have you or anybody actually seen any of the evidence? i remember seeing something on TV many years ago (they do sell the happy slap footage to tv companies for entertainment) gang of heavily armed psychopaths, wearing masks and no identifying marks attacked couple of young kids in a car, dragged them out, beat them up….gloved closed hand goes into pocket…hand comes out, unclenches…and yo and behold tiny little bag with some white powder in it… was about the time bigger TVs start coming in with zoom function, you wouldn’t have noticed that before then….

        wasn’t any trial or anything as they supposedly pleaded guilty…couple of years i think the narrator said they got…but i mean wtf? and that was about 15 years ago….even when ‘allowed’ a jury trial they’re ordered to take the prosecutions word for things/ you can’t see DNA for example….hence you end up in the situation where the rape victim is testifying for the defence, it wasn’t him she swore….I presume he got of as Dispatches made a TV program about it and he was in it, pretty sure they didn’t actually say…and that was circa. 1992

        but any custodial for something that most decent people don’t actually consider a crime is absurd and undermines the whole of society….back in my day the pigyobs just stole your drugs and all your money and left it at that, 9 times out of ten……not even a beating! unless u were big time…..

        but 12 months for being a grass…..think he got off easy! might regret that is he ends up kneecapped or anything….u cannae rely on the state for protection….it’s them that decent people need protecting from.

        1. Ummm. You do realise this is (Gasp! Shock!) not a real life case don’t you?
          Even Hooting Jill and Freddie’s mother, Lizzard, will have to face reality this evening.

  6. If nothing else the case serves to show how ludicrous our drugs laws are and how completely out of touch our politicians (and our judiciary) are with the reality of most young people’s lives. MDMA is simply not considered to be a ‘serious’ or dangerous drug by swathes (the majority?) of young people up and down the country. What a waste of police and court time and resources to give a custodial sentence to someone supplying. And what rehabilitation will young Freddie receive in a young offenders institution? The statistical likelihood is surely that he will become a recidivist as a result of the people he will be mixing with. Better surely to have given him some community service; to downgrade MDMA to class B; to decriminalise most drugs anyway; and to actually legalise cannabis for its beneficial medical effects and to tax it thus producing some income for the government! Ah, but of course this would do hard working criminal layers out of earning their pittance …

  7. Who’s this unscrupulous ‘barrister’ who takes hopeless appeals so as to fleece hopeful relatives? If Anna T. was directing Elizabeth to anyone, surely it would be a solicitor.

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