Thug jailed for violent attack that fractured bone in victim’s throat loses appeal for £50,000 under human rights law

Court
Court

A thug who said he spent three years more in prison than he should have done for battering a man has had his £50,000 human rights claim rejected.

John Wright, 32, of St Andrews Road, Northampton, was jailed in November 2007 for a brutal assault.

The victim was left with a fractured bone in his throat and needing a metal plate inserted into his jaw after the attack in Abington Street in 2006.

Wright was freed in 2013 after appeal judges ruled his sentence ‘unlawful’ - and sued the Lord Chancellor for an alleged violation of his human rights.

Yesterday, after taking three months to consider the case, Mrs Justice McGowan dismissed Wright’s damages bid at the High Court in London.

The court heard Wright’s sentence was deemed unlawful because it was longer than the maximum for GBH and affray.

He had been given eight-and-a-half years, comprising three-and-a-half in jail and five on extended licence in the community.

Although he was released, he breached his licence and was recalled to prison.

It was that which he said led to him serving longer in prison than he should have done.

At the trial, his lawyers argued that the fact that the sentence was unlawful meant it breached his right to liberty under Article 5 of the Human Rights Convention.

It was a ‘gross and exceptional’ error by the crown court judge, said barrister Rachit Buch.

Rejecting the claim, Mrs Justice McGowan said Wright’s remedy for the passing of the unlawful sentence was an appeal - which he got and won.

In addition, he had failed to even bring his appeal against sentence until years out of time.

“The appropriate remedy of an appeal to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division was available to him and should have been pursued within 28 days of the imposition of the original sentence,” she said.

“Even out of time, that court would have entertained and allowed the appeal, as it did on January 14, 2013.

“The mistake could have been remedied before the unlawful detention even began or at any point afterwards.

“Those representing him should have been aware of the extent to which the sentence imposed was outside the statutory power of the Crown Court.”

The judge said Wright had launched his claim too late to be allowed to proceed, but would have failed anyway.