Appellate Court Emphasizes Mitigating Factors in Sentencing for Offences Causing Serious Child Injury

Citation: [2023] EWCA Crim 1612
Judgment on


In the appellate judgment of R v Lewis Richard John Romanis, the Court of Appeal Criminal Division provided valuable insight into the sentencing considerations for offences involving the causing or allowing of serious injury to a child. This case is instructive on the application of sentencing guidelines, consideration of mitigating factors, and the general principles of proportionality and totality in sentencing. The court also considered the implications of mental and developmental disorders on sentencing decisions.

Key Facts

Lewis Richard John Romanis was convicted of two counts of causing or allowing serious injury to a child. The offences occurred in December 2019 when Romanis was 20 years old, and the victim, a seven-month-old baby, was in his care. On two separate occasions, the baby sustained a brain injury and severe bruising, respectively.

The initial sentence before the Court of Appeal was a concurrent term of three years’ imprisonment following a guilty plea. Before sentencing, extensive investigations and a delayed criminal process ensued due to concurrent proceedings in the Family Court.

Mitigating factors, including Romanis’ cognitive impairments and psychological history, were presented to the court.

The Court of Appeal applied several legal principles in this case, including:

  1. Guidelines for Sentencing Children and Young Offenders:

    • The court noted the Sentencing Council’s new guidelines effective from April 2023 for the relevant offence, falling under category 3C, which describes medium culpability with serious harm that has not had a substantial or long-term effect.
  2. The Importance of Mitigating Factors:

    • Romanis’ limitations in mental and emotional functioning were considered significant mitigating factors. The appellate court highlighted that the psychological difficulties impacting his judgment and action were not sufficiently accounted for at the initial sentencing.
  3. The Overarching Sentencing Council Guideline:

    • Emphasized by the appellate court, this guideline addresses sentencing offenders with mental and developmental disorders, mandating that their potential impairment in judgment must be considered and could lead to a reduced sentence.
  4. Proportionality and Totality:

    • The court considered whether the overall sentence appropriately reflected the seriousness of the two offences and whether it considered the principle of totality, ensuring that the sentence for all offences was just and proportionate.
  5. Late Guilty Plea Reduction:

    • The original sentencing allowed for a six-month reduction for the guilty plea entered just before the commencement of the trial. The appellate court adjusted the reduction based on the revised sentence.


The Court of Appeal concluded that the initial sentencing was manifestly excessive, emphasizing the need to weigh mitigating circumstances more significantly, particularly the appellant’s cognitive and emotional limitations.

Reducing the sentence from three years to 21 months’ imprisonment, the appellate court acknowledged the gravity of the offences but recognized that a balance needed to be struck, taking into account Romanis’ specific difficulties.

Although Mr. Rosen, representing the appellant, suggested that the sentence be suspended, the Court found that immediate custody was necessary for appropriate punishment and declined this suggestion.


The appellate decision in R v Lewis Richard John Romanis underscores the critical nature of individualized sentencing and the need for courts to thoroughly evaluate and give due weight to mitigating factors, such as the offender’s mental and emotional capacity. The judgment serves as a reminder to the legal profession of the principles of proportionality, totality, and the relevance of Sentencing Council guidelines, particularly in the context of young offenders with developmental disorders. The court’s approach highlights the delicate balance between delivering just punishment and acknowledging an individual’s cognitive limitations within the criminal justice system.