Norwich child sex abuser sentence 'not unduly lenient'

Norwich Corwn Court Gary Karn was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court following a trial

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A child sex abuser who was spared jail because of the impact on his family was not given an "unduly lenient" sentence, the solicitor general has decided.

Gary Karn, 48, was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence at Norwich Crown Court for sexually assaulting two girls, aged seven and eight.

The case was reviewed by the attorney general's office, which can refer cases to the Court of Appeal.

The solicitor general did not believe the sentence could be increased.

The 'unduly lenient' threshold

Royal Courts of Justice
  • Anyone can ask the attorney general's office to review a sentence, whether they are connected to the case or not, and each request has to be followed up with a review.
  • The attorney and solicitor general have the power to refer sentences for a limited number of offences to the Court of Appeal when they consider the sentence to be "unduly lenient".
  • A sentence will only be "unduly lenient" if it falls significantly below the sentence that any judge could reasonably have imposed in the circumstances of the particular case
  • The Court of Appeal still has a wide discretion as to whether it should actually increase a sentence in a case.
  • Source: Attorney general's office

Karn had denied three sexual assaults of a child under 13, involving two girls, and was convicted following a trial.

It is understood he could have faced up to four years in prison.

'Could lose home'

Judge Mark Lucraft, sitting at Norwich Crown Court on 24 April, said he had to consider the "hardship" prison would cause Karn's wife and two children.

His wife had written to the court saying if he was jailed Karn would lose his job and the family could lose their home.

Judge Lucraft said: "I have to consider the impact on them. People who are not in any way at fault for what has happened, yet might suffer serious hardship."

Karn, from Firwood Close, Norwich, was given an 18-month sentence, suspended for two years, and also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also made the subject of a five-year sexual offences prevention order and banned from working with children for five years.

Judge Lucraft said he had taken into account six counts of possessing an extreme pornographic image and one count of possession of indecent photographs of a child.

The attorney general's office received a request for the sentence to be reviewed.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said: "Following a very careful review of this case the solicitor general Oliver Heald QC has decided not to refer the sentence of Gary Karn to the Court of Appeal, as he did not believe that the sentence for the offences would be increased.

"The Law Officers only take decisions whether or not to refer cases to the Court of Appeal after careful consideration of all the facts and circumstances of the case and the relevant sentencing case law.

"In this case, they received case papers from the local Crown Prosecution Service whose view was that the sentence was not unduly lenient."

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