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A judge was forced to admit he had wrongly sentenced a teenager to two years in prison after lawyers pointed out he had mistaken the crime the man was charged with.
By Alice Philipson
Recorder David Lane QC failed to realise that the charge against Daniel Donohoe, 18, had been reduced from one of rape to a less serious one of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Friends and family of the teenager sat in the public gallery burst into tears as he was handed a two-year prison sentence by the judge.
As soon as Donohoe had been taken down to the cells at Gloucester crown court his solicitor Andrew Hobson pointed out the judge’s error.
“With great respect he has not pleaded guilty to rape. Plainly he cannot be sentenced for rape,” he said.
“It is a serious offence but by no means as serious as rape. It seems he has been sentenced for the wrong offence.”
Donohoe had earlier pleaded guilty to having sex with the girl in December 2011.
But when passing sentence Recorder Lane revealed his misunderstanding when he used the word rape and said “You forced yourself on her knowing she did not consent.”
The Recorder said that had not been made clear to him throughout the case.
“I sentenced you a few moments ago on a wholly erroneous basis of fact and law, for which I have to accept responsibility,” he said.
He said the charge sheet he had been given had only a charge of rape on it and no alternative. He then adjourned to reconsider sentence and returned to court to give Donohoe the news that he was not going to a young offender’s institution after all.
Donohoe was instead given a three-year supervision order and told he must attend 70 sessions on a sex offender programme.