A judge was forced into an embarrassing retreat after he sentenced a teenager for the wrong crime, it emerged today.
In what one onlooker described as a “strikingly bizarre state of affairs”, Recorder David Lane QC appeared to have sat through the entire hearing without realising the charge faced by 18-year-old Daniel Donohoe.
Friends and relatives of the teenager burst into tears in the public gallery as he was handed a two year prison sentence by the judge, who appeared under the impression that he had admitted rape.
Donohoe's solicitor advocate, Andrew Hobson, had to point out that his client had not been convicted of, or admitted, rape but had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Despite a 40-minute sentencing hearing outlining the case on Monday, the judge at Gloucester Crown Court was relying on an earlier indictment he had been given, oblivious to the fact it had changed. Sources said the prosecution had referred to the earlier charge of rape and the judge was unaware that Donohoe had admitted to the lesser offence.
Mr Hobson, of Hine Solicitors, told the judge: "I'm terribly sorry, but this is not a rape case. I felt it appropriate to draw this to your attention as he is being sentenced for an offence he has not pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of."
The Recorder thanked Mr Hobson, revoked the sentence and gave Donohoe a three years’ supervision order instead, adding that he must attend 70 sessions on a sex offender programme.
The court heard that both Donohoe, then an “emotionally immature” 17, and the girl were drunk when the offence was committed in December 2011 and she had no intention of reporting the matter until a member of her family found out about the incident.