Pre-Sentence Report 2001 - Harry
In compiling this Pre-Sentence Report I have conducted one interview with the defendant at our Probation Service office. I have not had sight of the Crown Prosecution Service documentation, yet I have been able to liaise with the victims of the offence and access limited witness statements.
1.1I have been unable to view the Crown Prosecution Service documentation and have therefore had to rely on the defendants version of events. I am in no doubt that the Court will be familiar with the circumstances surrounding the commission of the index offences.
In interview Mr Jones stated that prior to committing the offences of Burglary and Theft he had been 'withdrawing from Heroin' and recalled 'being unable to purchase the substance due to his financial status. He claimed that he had previously considered breaking into a neighbours home, and on the day of the offence noticed that he would be able to access the address through a rear window. The defendant stated that he was aware the victim, who was employed, would be leaving the house at approximately 8.30am, and that he would 'wait a couple of hours' before entering the victims garden. He then approached the address and forced the rear window, gaining access to the premises. Once inside the home he told me that he gathered as many Compact Discs and DVD's as possible, and that he also looked for any sums of money and jewellery that may have been 'lying around the home.' Mr Jones told me that he was in the house for approximately ten minutes, and could not recall the specific quantities of goods he left with. He added that he attempted to sell the items to 'people he knew' and that he used the money gained to purchase Heroin. I am aware that there are a number of other acquisitive related offences to be taken into consideration by the Court.
It is my assessment that this was an offence that was clearly planned, with Mr Jones indicating he knew the movements of the neighbour and that he was also aware of a way in which to enter the address. In interview Mr Jones mentioned that he had previously been into the victims home, and this may have provided him with an opportunity to assess the types and value of items within her home. Of particular concern was the fact that the defendant demonstrated little remorse in terms of the impact this behaviour would have upon the victim, maintaining that 'all he could think about was gaining money for drugs.'
I have been able to access victim statements, which indicate that she was 'shocked and upset' at the fact that this individual had entered her home and 'been through her possessions.' The victim indicated that she had known the victim for some time and that she had also 'let him into her home on several occasions.' In interview Mr Jones demonstrated little insight into the impact his offence would have had upon the victim, perceiving himself to be the victim of Heroin addiction. I would suggest that this individual would need to undertake some form of victim work throughout sentence, whether this is through a custodial disposal or community option.
With reference to the triggers underpinning this offence Mr Jones stated that he was experiencing physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms prior to committing the offence, and that he could 'see no other option at the time.' I am in no doubt that his withdrawal from Heroin would have caused some degree of impaired thinking - however this behaviour was clearly pre planned and therefore the trigger was in the opportunity that presented itself when she left her home, and his belief that his actions would remain undetected. His motivation was undoubtedly financial, in the aim of purchasing drugs. I would add that at the time of writing this report the defendants sister, who resides next door to the victim, has encountered numerous problems.
The defendant accepts little responsibility for the offence committed, suggesting that he had 'no other option at the time.' He continued to minimise his behaviour throughout the duration of the interview, insisting that he 'wouldn't have done it had he not been withdrawing from Heroin' and that 'Heroin had been the sole cause of his behaviour.' He demonstrated little remorse, choosing instead to express his concerns about the risk of incarceration for the offences committed.
I have been unable to view the defendants pre-convictions and cannot therefore comment on previous offending behaviour. I am however aware that Mr Jones has been subject to previous Probation Service supervision for an offence that was acquisitive in nature. In interview he disclosed how he had 'committed a number of offences' for which he 'had not been caught.'
Mr Jones is currently resident at his sisters address, and it would appear that he has experienced little stability in this aspect of his life over the past twelve months. Mr Jones grew up in local authority care, and upon leaving a local children's home secured stable accommodation with a long term partner. For approximately three years he managed to retain stable accommodation - however following his introduction to Heroin and subsequent relationship breakdown he lost his home and has lived in transient accommodation since that date. I would highlight the fact that his sister continues to reside next door to the victim, and in light of a community sentence being imposed I do not feel that this would be a suitable address for Mr Jones to remain at. Accommodation is an issue explicitly linked to his offending behaviour.
In assessing the defendants education Mr Jones claims that he left school with formal qualifications, and immediately gained work at a local furniture factory. It would appear that he had been in consistent employment up until the breakdown of his relationship, and in interview Mr Jones indicated that he would like to re-enter the employment arena once he had 'dealt with his drug use.' However he also reported working whilst misusing Heroin, and that whilst holding at least two positions he recalled 'stealing money,; namely when working as a barman. I am of the opinion that at this point in time Mr Jones would be unable to work due to his dependence upon Heroin, and whilst not convicted for his admitted behaviour, the risk of him committing further acquisitive offences within any workplace is high.
The defendant is currently in receipt of state benefits, and he stated that much of this income is spent on supporting his drug dependence. The commission of the index offence is clearly underpinned by financial motivations, which in turn fed his drug habit.
Mr Jones described an unstable and turbulent childhood, in which he was taken into local authority care at a young age. According to the defendant he was removed from his mothers care and placed with relatives - however due to issues relating to his problematic behaviour he was later placed into a children's home. Much of his childhood has been spent within various foster homes and children's institutions. Whilst he has no contact with his father he identified sporadic contact with his biological mother, and regular contact with his brother and sister. It is clear that Mr Jones has experienced a relatively unsettled childhood, and credit must be given to his immediate progress upon leaving authority care. From this point he formed a long term relationship, which remained stable for some years. Mr Jones told me that he had two young daughters, and that his relationship with his partner broke down following the onset of his Heroin use. To my knowledge he has no contact with his two daughters at this time, and should a community sentence be imposed I feel that a Social Services referral would be required were these circumstances to change. At the time of writing this report Mr Jones informs me that he is in another settled relationship, and that he has recently discovered this new partner is pregnant.
The defendants lifestyle is explicitly linked to his offending behaviour, with him freely admitting in interview that he had recently been involved in the supply of Heroin to other drug users. Mr Jones described how he and a group of males friends began using Heroin at approximately the same time, and that as his level of dependence increased he was 'drawn into supplying the drug to fund his own addiction.' Whilst he added that he was no longer involved in the supply of drugs, Mr Jones acknowledged that he regularly mixed with other drug users and that this was linked to his ongoing misuse of drugs.
Mr Jones informed me that he began using Cannabis at an early age, and that prior to his use of Heroin he was using the substance on a daily basis and again claimed to be in supply of this substance to others. In 1999 he recalled 'wanting to try Heroin' as 'others were using it.' He described how he and his friends were able to use the substance recreationally, primarily of a weekend, yet he struggled to manage his level of dependence and within a few months was using Heroin on a dally basis. He stated that he had attempted to reduce his intake and abstain on a number of occasions, all of which had been unsuccessful attempts. He described how in 2000/2001he became involved in the local supply of the drug, resulting in his own intake increasing significantly. In recent months Mr Jones has moved away from this lifestyle, claiming that he wanted to attempt to rid himself of this dependence. Having viewed various statements and Police interview I would suggest that there may have been additional reasons as to why Mr Jones moved away from this arena, namely in his 'falling out' with a local drug supplier. It is clear that the defendants illicit drug use is explicitly linked to his offending behaviour, and were the Court to consider any form of community sentence I would strongly suggest that a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement (DRR) be imposed. Should the issue of drug misuse remain un-addressed then the risk of further offending will remain at a high level.
With reference to alcohol misuse Mr Jones told me that he had not been dependant upon alcohol, although he had consumed the substance to excess in the past, claiming it was a 'way of life.'Whilst there are no immediate concerns in this area I feel that his planned abstinence from drug use may lead to an increased level of alcohol intake, used to substitute his addiction to drugs.
The defendants emotional well being appears to be relatively stable, and in interview he claimed that he had never considered any form of self harm or suicide attempts. To my knowledge there has not been any previous psychiatric intervention, and as such there are no immediate concerns. In light of a custodial sentence being implemented I would ask that the relevant prison authorities conduct an assessment, primarily in light of his withdrawal from Heroin use.
The defendants thinking skills are clearly poor, and often distorted by his drug induced state. Throughout my time with Mr Jones he displayed deficits ion the areas of victim awareness, problem solving and consequential thinking. I would suggest that any sentence incorporates the need for him to complete cognitive based programmers that target these issue, namely through the Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) programme.
This is the defendants second appearance before the Courts. In seeking to assess risk I have utilised the Home Office approved risk assessment tool OGRS, which is based on static factors inclusive of age and previous convictions. It indicates that Mr Jones presents with a 57% liklehood of reconviction for any offence over the next two years. It is my assessment that he presents with a medium - high risk in this area - exacerbated by his drug misuse, distorted think and apparent disregard for the impact of his offending upon others.
Mr Jones presents with no recorded violence related behaviours, and in interview he told me that he did not present with the propensity to be aggressive or abusive. Whilst there is no evidence pointing towards violent conduct I am concerned as to the lengths this individual would go to in the aim of securing finances for illicit substances, and were he to be confronted by a victim I would assert that he may react aggressively. On this basis he presents with a medium risk of harm to the public - with a victim likely to be a vulnerable person.
I am in no doubt that the Court will be strongly considering the imposition of a custodial sentence today, which would act to punish the defendant for the offence committed whilst at the same time protecting the public from potential harm. The defendant acknowledged that a custodial sentence was the likely option today.