Client left a sum of money in his girlfriend’s safe. The premises were broken into. Two days later he went to the premises and heard someone inside – nobody would open the door. He forced entry and assaulted the occupants whilst armed with a knife.
We did not act for this client until just before the sentencing date. The aggravated break and enter charge was withdrawn upon guilty pleas being entered to the remaining counts. However, the client’s ability to speak English was imperfect and he thought that the only charge he faced was possession of a knife.
When the client sought a second opinion, we informed him of the charges that he had pleaded guilty to. He thought that he was going to get the matter dismissed without a conviction – the reality was that he was facing imprisonment for arming himself with a knife. Needless to say, he was very unhappy with his former solicitor and felt that he had been misled. He had been charged a significant amount of money.
The court ordered a pre-sentence report from the Probation and Parole Service. The client was of prior good character. He received a community service order – whereas the Magistrate’s instinctive reaction was to consider a full time prison sentence.
Fortunately, we were able to persuade the Magistrate not to impose a full time custodial sentence.