Secret Barrister’s thoughts on sentencing of teen stabber amid outrage after Littlehampton incident

The stabbings took place in Terminus Road, Littlehampton
The stabbings took place in Terminus Road, Littlehampton

A teenager who stabbed three boys in Littlehampton town centre earlier this year avoided a custodial sentence last week – but why?

Many readers took to the Gazette’s Facebook page on Friday after Kurtis Donat, 16, from Durrington, appeared in court on Friday.

The stabbings took place in Terminus Road, Littlehampton

The stabbings took place in Terminus Road, Littlehampton

They questioned whether his sentence – which included a community order – was too lenient. Click here for the full story.

In an attempt to answer the question, the Gazette contacted the Secret Barrister, an anonymous legal professional, award-winning blogger and bestseller author, to assist.

And based on the facts in our report, they suggested the sentence was unlikely to be considered unduly lenient.

“For an adult, the guidelines would specify a starting point of three years’ imprisonment,” Secret Barrister explained.

This is based on the most serious charge of unlawful wounding which Donat pleaded guilty to – and that it was a ‘category one’ offence due to serious injury and use of a weapon.

Donat’s age would also have been taken into account, the barrister said.

They added: “He was 15 at the time. He could expect a reduction of a third to a half of an adult’s sentence. So we’re down to 18 months.”

Donat would have been entitled to some reduction in his sentence because of his guilty pleas, Secret Barrister said.

The amount of credit he would be given would depend on the timing of the plea – but they said it could further reduce the sentence to around 12 months.

Then, they pointed to his personal circumstances provided to the court by his defence team, plus time served on remand in custody.

They said: “There was personal mitigation which sounds quite powerful.

“He had already served five-and-a-half months in custody on remand, which would have counted towards any custodial sentence imposed.

“This is the equivalent to an 1-month sentence (as defendants are automatically released at the halfway stage).

“The judge may well have thought that more could be achieved by imposing a lengthy Youth Rehabilitation Order rather than sending him back (to custody) for what would only have been a few months.

“All in all, I can see how such a sentence might be arrived at.”

Secret Barrister stressed their thoughts were based purely on the facts available as part of the Gazette’s report – and the judge may have taken other factors into consideration.

Speaking after the sentencing, the mother of one of the victims told the paper the sentence was ‘absolutely disgusting’.

She said: “I can’t believe it. I thought they were going to make an example out of him.

“I do feel for Kurtis, being a mum, but I don’t understand that decision one little bit.

“I think half of Littlehampton will be shocked at this. There’ll be outrage.”

Her thoughts were echoed by several readers, who claimed the sentence was a ‘soft touch’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘a farce’.

But others, including Lexi Bull, emphasised Donat’s mitigation. The court heard there was ‘bad blood’ between him and his victims and armed himself with a knife because he feared they would beat him up after he was bullied.

Lexi said: “Having been a victim of constant bullying myself I empathise with the defendant, even though I do not condone his behaviour.”

Visit https://thesecretbarrister.com/ to read more of the Secret Barrister’s work or follow them on Twitter @BarristerSecret