Bribery clerk's sentence reduced

 

A court clerk who made legal history when he became the first person to be jailed under new bribery legislation won a two-year cut in his sentence today.

Munir Patel, 22, of Green Lane, Dagenham, east London, was originally handed a three-year prison term for bribery and ordered to serve six years concurrently for misconduct in a public office - making an overall sentence of six years.

At the Court of Appeal in London today the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with two other judges, ruled that the total of six years, imposed in November on a young man of previous good character who pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, was "excessive".

Lord Judge announced: "In our judgment the appropriate sentence for this criminal activity remains a substantial sentence, but the sentence should be reduced from six to four years."

London's Southwark Crown Court heard last year that Patel, who worked at Redbridge Magistrates' Court in east London, used his privileged access to the court system to help more than 50 offenders avoid prosecution relating to driving offences in exchange for sums of up to £500.

He became the first person to be prosecuted and convicted under the Bribery Act 2010.

The reduction in sentence was achieved by cutting Patel's original six-year term for misconduct in a public office to four years.

Lord Judge said: "The appellant abused his position as a court clerk to pervert the course of justice by taking bribes from those who had committed motoring offences and enabled them to escape the proper consequences for what they had done.

"It is clear from the evidence that he solicited the bribes and clear too that he started on this process very soon after he started work at the magistrates' court."

He said it was also clear that in order to "induce or persuade" people to give him bribes, Patel told them that if they came before the magistrates "they would be prejudiced against them on racist grounds".

Lord Judge said: "He acted on his initiative and enjoyed all the profits.

"There is no doubt these were serious offences and the public is entitled to rely on the integrity of anyone who is involved in the administration of justice, whether as a judge or magistrate or a court official."

He added: "All are expected to be incorruptible. That confident expectation was tarnished by these criminal activities."

Patel was guilty of a "systematic and prolonged breach of trust".

Lord Judge said: "As a result, some drivers who should have been disqualified just because they would have exceeded the relevant points total avoided disqualification, and others avoided fines and penalty points which they would have justly incurred."

Each incident represented a deliberate perversion of the course of justice by an official of the court system.

Lord Judge said: "A very substantial sentence was an appropriate sentence to be imposed on the appellant. That said, we have come to the conclusion that the sentence which was actually imposed ... was an excessive sentence.

"The question for us is whether a six-year total sentence on a young man of good character who pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity was excessive.

"We have come to the conclusion that it was."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy