EWCA Crim Reduces Custodial Sentence in R v Tommy Robinson Case Based on Mitigation Factors

Citation: [2024] EWCA Crim 36
Judgment on


The case of R v Tommy Robinson, adjudicated by the EWCA Crim on 16 January 2024, provides an insightful instance of the application of sentencing principles in criminal law. The judgment delivered reflects on the considerations for reducing a custodial sentence based on a combination of personal circumstances, including genuine remorse and proactive steps taken by the defendant towards rehabilitation.

Key Facts

Tommy Robinson, aged 41, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply both crack cocaine and heroin. Police discovered him with drugs, cash, and burner phones, indicative of street-level drug dealing. Robinson’s criminal history was free of drug supply infractions for at least nine years prior to this incident. The pre-sentence report highlighted a schizoaffective disorder, a history with substance abuse, and Robinson’s coerced involvement in drug dealing due to a debt. Robinson had been attempting to recover from his addiction and had expressed sincere remorse for his actions.

The legal principles at play in this case surround the appropriate sentencing for drug offenses, particularly when an individual occupies a ‘lesser role’ in the drug supply chain. In his sentencing decision, Mr Recorder Beer KC determined the appropriate starting point as three years’ imprisonment, with a range of two to four and a half years’ custody, signifying category 3 street dealing as per existing sentencing guidelines. The Judge accounted for Robinson’s willingness to address his addiction and gave a reduced sentence of two years after factoring in his early guilty plea.

Upon appeal, the EWCA Crim applied principles of mitigation, acknowledging that the judge in the first instance should have adjusted the sentence downwards in light of Robinson’s personal circumstances, including his remorse, efforts at addiction recovery, and mental health condition. These factors warranted a lesser sentence than the starting point initially set by the Recorder.

Furthermore, full credit was given for the early guilty plea, in line with principles that encourage defendants to admit their guilt at an early stage to benefit from a reduction in sentence, as demonstrated in the “Sentencing Guidelines” and cases such as R v Caley [2012] EWCA Crim 2821.


The panel, consisting of Lord Justice Popplewell, Mr Justice Choudhury, and Her Honour Judge Angela Rafferty KC, found in favor of the appellant’s argument that his mitigation had not been fully considered in the initial sentencing. Consequently, the court held that, after a trial, an appropriate sentence would be 27 months’ imprisonment. With the application of full discount for an early guilty plea, the sentence was reduced to 18 months’ imprisonment for each count, resulting in an amended sentencing decision.


The EWCA Crim’s decision in R v Tommy Robinson underlines the imperative for sentencing judges to comprehensively consider all facets of mitigation presented. The appeal succeeded due to the recognition that individual circumstances, such as mental health disorders, demonstrated remorse, and genuine efforts toward self-improvement, should influence a reduced sentence below the standard starting point in drug offenses involving lesser roles, fostering a fairer and more individualized approach in the UK’s criminal justice system.