Guntrip v Parole Board of England and Wales & Anor, Court of Appeal - Administrative Court, December 17, 2014, [2014] EWHC 4180 (Admin)

Resolution Date:December 17, 2014
Issuing Organization:Administrative Court
Actores:Guntrip v Parole Board of England and Wales & Anor

Case No: 5391/2014

Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWHC 4180 (Admin)




Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 17/12/2014

Before :



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Between :

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Philip Rule (instructed by Own Solicitors) for the Claimant

Colin Thomann (instructed by Treasury Solicitors) for the First Defendant

Andrew Deakin (instructed by Treasury Solicitors) for the Second Defendant

Hearing dates: 25 and 26 November 2014

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JudgmentThe Honourable Mr Justice Blake:

  1. This is the judgment of the court. On 20 November 2005 the claimant was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court for an offence of street robbery to Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) with a minimum term of 2 years pursuant to s.225 Criminal Justice Act 2003. He was then aged 23 years. Time spent on remand was to count towards the minimum term with the consequence that the term to be served for punitive purposes expired in July 2007.

  2. On 13 July 2009, two years after the expiry of the minimum term, the Parole Board concluded, following an oral hearing that the claimant continued to pose a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public and declined either to direct his release on licence or to recommend a transfer to open conditions.

  3. On 9 December 2010, in a challenge by way of judicial review brought by the claimant against the same defendants as in the present case, [2010] EWHC 3188 (Admin), Ouseley J granted a declaration that there had been a breach of the claimant's human right to proceedings of appropriate expedition in which the lawfulness of his detention could be determined as required by Article 5(4) European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). He further awarded damages of £1,200 split equally between the defendants for their respective responsibilities for a period of delay of a year. He also concluded that the Secretary of State's decision that the next review of the legality of the continued detention should take place 18 months after the July 2009 review was lawful. The period was set to enable mental health assessments to be made and for the claimant to meet the objectives set in his progress to release.

  4. In April 2010, the claimant's solicitors obtained a psychiatric report from Dr Duffield. A dossier was provided to the Parole Board in August 2010 and Intensive Case Management (ICM) Directions were made on 18 November 2010 with a view to setting a target date for February 2011. In considering the future scrutiny of the claimant's case, Ouseley J had expressed the hope that a hearing should not be further delayed.

  5. In January 2011, the Parole Board fixed a date for a hearing of the claimant's case in March 2011, giving due priority in the light of the history. At that stage the Board envisaged an oral hearing. However at about this time the claimant's behaviour in prison and his mental health underwent a significant deterioration. Between 15 October 2010 and 31 May 2011, 21 disciplinary offences were found proved for conduct that included threatening or abusive words or behaviour, criminal damage, and assaults on prison officers.

  6. On 17 February 2011, the claimant was the subject of a medical transfer to HMP Peterborough and on 25 March 2011 his solicitors asked for a six month adjournment of his hearing because he was unwell. The hearing set for 31 March was adjourned and, on 16 May 2011, the Board identified a target date for the next hearing as July 2011, two months short of the six months the solicitors had requested.

  7. On 24 May, the claimant was moved to HMP Chelmsford where his status was re-categorised from C to category B. On 13 July 2011, he was transferred to the Three Bridges Regional Secure Unit for a psychiatric assessment pursuant to direction made by the Secretary of State under s.47 Mental Health Act 1983 on 6 July 2011. When this came to the Board's attention, there was an exchange of emails between the Board and the Secretary of State on 21 July that concluded with a statement from the Case Manager for Lifers and IPPs made on behalf of the second defendant:

    ``Mr Guntrip was transferred to the MH estate on 8 July, so his current Parole Review (and accordingly the hearing on 2 August) is cancelled.''

  8. The Board took the view that as its jurisdiction depended on the Secretary of State making a referral to it, the power to make a referral carried with it the power to revoke it and if a referral was cancelled, the Board had to wait for a further one to be made before it could further examine the case.

  9. The claimant remained at Three Bridges until 12 August 2011. A report from a psychiatrist Dr Kamal dated 15 August 2011 stated:

    ``Since coming to the medium secure unit Mr Guntrip has spent time in seclusion on several occasions for making explicit threats of violence towards several members of the staff and patients. He has damaged property and broke a window by throwing a chair at it. He has said things like ``I am going to stab... (a named individual) in the neck with a pen when I get the chance...'' and while in seclusion he has said, ``I can pretend to be calm but once I am out I would get you''.

    The fact that he has made similar threats to a considerable number of staff makes it impossible for us to manage him outside the seclusion. He has said that he can control his anger and has shown that he can actually do this. He presents as very calm and rational while in seclusion but in view of his changeable behaviour over the last 4 weeks his ability to stay calm for long periods of time and then change quickly makes him unpredictable and difficult to trust.

    When Mr Guntrip was in seclusion for the first time he was given an injection he refused to take oral medication. This led to him developing a tremor. He asked not to be given the injection again. He agreed to take regular Aripiprazole which he said had helped in the past.

    However, with passage of time it became clear that he does not have any major mental illness such as Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia. He has not presented with any symptoms that are necessary for diagnosing these conditions according to the ICD 10 criteria.

    What he does present with are traits of a severe personality disorder. He has a very low tolerance to frustration, explosive anger, a tendency to take offence when none is intended by others, confusion about his own identity (as a man and regarding his sexuality), affective instability, sensitivity to rejection, impulsivity, a history of polysubstance abuse, history of self harming behaviour and a possible history of sexual abuse in childhood.''

  10. On 22 November 2011, the Secretary of State made a further referral of the claimant's detention to the Board. There is no information as to why the referral was not made until three months after he had been returned to prison.

  11. The dossier was sent to the Board in February 2012. It included a sentence planning report by the Offender Supervisor indicating that the claimant's conduct in prison since his return there in August 2011 continued to be poor. It recorded that he refused to engage with therapy and medication at Three Bridges as he wanted to complete it in prison rather than in a mental health facility after transfer to HMP Norwich on 16 August 2011 and continued:

    ``Mr Guntrip was asked if he wanted to engage with the Mental Health in Reach team at Norwich he declined their assistance and has not been taking any medication for his mental health. Since his reception to HMP Norwich Mr Guntrip has verbally abused staff; threatened prisoners and has been found with self made weapons in his cell. When I asked him about his behaviour Mr Guntrip informed me that he suffers from Manic Depression/Bi Polar condition, when he feels his sensation of being high he does not want to come back down''

    The report also noted that since his last adjudication on 10 October 2011 the claimant had made a concerted effort to improve his behaviour. He had been informed this would help him to transfer to another establishment that would be better suited to his needs.

  12. On 7 March 2012 a Board member issued ICM directions with a view to a target hearing date of April 2012. The relevance of Dr Kamal's July 2011 assessment to the Board's task was identified. Between April and June, the timetable to move to a hearing was delayed at the request of the claimant's solicitors to enable them first to obtain a copy of Dr Kamal's assessment and then take instructions. In fact no written representations were made to the Board by 6 August 2012 when a single member conducted a paper review of the detention.

  13. By rule 16 (1) of the Parole Board Rules 2011, the single member must decide either to refer the case to an oral panel or make a provisional decision that the prisoner is unsuitable for release. The single member declined to refer the case to an oral hearing and concluded:

    ``In reaching its decision the panel has sought to balance your interest in sentence progression against the need for public protection from you committing offences likely to cause serious harm. The panel notes that there is currently no support for your release, reports indicating that there is little or no evidence of any reduction in your assessed high risk of causing serious harm to the public and medium to high risk of re-offending. Noting that you have been assessed as having an Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder with traits of Dissocial and Paranoid personalities, the panel considers that you need to be further assessed by the Psychology Department as to the implications of this in relation to you effectively addressing your risk. Consequently, for the present, taking all of the above matters into...

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