Family Law Hub

R v David Murphy [2012] EWCA Crim 2273

  • In brief: This was an appeal against a sentence of four years' imprisonment by a man convicted of breaching a non-molestation order. 

    Mr Murphy had been in a relationship; when that ended in 2010, he took the break up badly. His ex-girlfriend complained that he was harassing and threatening her. In February 2011, she was granted a non-molestation order which prohibited Mr Murphy from communicating with her, from harassing her or from damaging her property. Mr Murphy was made aware of the order the following day. Two days later, he breached the non-molestation order. In his car, he followed his former girlfriend home from work; during the course of 20-30 minutes, he deliberately collided with her car, ramming it from behind and, as she saw it, trying to run her off the road. She sustained injuries as a result. He was convicted of four offences after a trial and was sentenced to concurrent sentences of imprisonment of four years, four years, 18 months and four months for each of those offences. He was also disqualified from driving for six years. 

    Mr Murphy complained that the total sentence of four years was manifestly excessive in length. In particular, he highlighted that all the offences arose out of the same incident. He submitted that the damage to his ex-girlfriend's car was consistent with a single collision rather than the reported ramming she had alleged and that there was no medical evidence to support her complaints that the injuries to her caused were continuing to give her problems. He argued that the maximum sentence for any one breach of a protective order was five years' imprisonment and that the aggregate term of four years took the total sentence here too close to the statutory maximum. 

    The Court of Appeal noted that the evidence showed that Mr Murphy had used his car as a weapon in a way that called for a significant sentence of imprisonment. The harm caused had been serious and the harm which foreseeably could have been caused to other road users was more serious. However, and without diminishing the seriousness of the offending, the Court of Appeal concluded that the total term of imprisonment was manifestly excessive in length. They quashed the sentences of four years' imprisonment for the first two offences (substituting a sentence of 12 months and three years' imprisonment) and the driving ban was reduced to four years.

Case note, published: 04/12/2012


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Published: 04/12/2012


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