Robert's Postbag

Robert receives hundreds of letters from prisoners asking for advice. Some have received unlawful sentences. Each one is answered and a selection of answers are published in Inside Time, the prisoner's newspaper.

The prisoners whose letters are published consent to the replies being published. However, no details which would identify the prisoner are given.

Only letters sent via a solicitor can be answered. Letters sent direct will be returned. Serving prisoners should send their letters to Inside Time, who will send it to a solicitor.

For the chronological list, click here.

Postbag By Subject

Advocates providing adequate services and low pay August 2015 Q2

Incompetent advocate as ground of appeal February 2016

Affray December 2012 Q2


Determing April 2015 Q2

Air rifle

Changes in law May 2013 Q1

Minimum sentences May 2013 Q1


Asking for December 2012 Q3

Issuing June 2015 Q1

Transcripts June 2015 Q1


Crown Court December 2012 Q2

Court of Appeal November 2013 Q2March 2013 Q2June 2014 Q3

Critisism of former representatives November 2016 Q2

From Magistrates Court to Crown Court July 2014 Q2

Incompetent advocate February 2016

Late appeals January 2014 Q2

Litigants in person November 2016 Q2

Minor errors in papers March 2011 Q4

Other avenues of November 2013 Q2

Out of time March 2011 Q3

Police misconduct November 2016 Q2

Tag time January 2014 Q2

Time awaiting an, August 2014 Q2

Unmeritorious June 2014 Q3,  March 2013 Q3


      Errors in chapter on suspended sentences December 2010 Q1

Arson November 2011 Q3


April 2015 Q1

Group violence December 2012 Q2

Association in prison, Rights October 2014 Q1

Attorney-General's references, who can request June 2012 Q3

Automatic life March 2014 Q2, June 2014 Q1


      Breach of July 2012 Q1

Bar Pro Bono Unit September 2011 Q5

Barred lists

Indecent photographs October 2013 Q2


Gay offences now legal 28 July 2015

Complaint against June 2011 Q3
Does not show up September 2013 Q2
Duty to see client after sentence January 2014 Q2
Missing days of court hearing April 2013 Q2
Not taking instructions before a sentencing hearing July 2016 Q1
Reporting January 2013 Q1


Breach of trust November 2013 Q1

Commercial: Guidelines February 2011 Q3, October 2011 Q2

Domestic: Guidelines October 2010 Q1

Dwelling?, What is March 2014 Q1

Minimum term March 2014 Q1

Multiple offences October 2013 Q3

Unoccupied premises May 2013 Q2

Cases not dealt with together June 2011 Q3

Child Cruelty August 2014 Q1

Clothing, Ability to wear own at court July 2014 Q1

Complaint against

Barrister June 2011 Q3

Judge July 2012 Q3

Probation April 2011 Note

Confiscation orders

Prison in default of payments April 2014 Q3

Consecutive sentences February 2013 Q3

Conspiracy cases January 2016

Conspiracy to

     Rob November 2011 Q1

     Supply drugs February 2012 Q2

Contempt of court  

      Photographing courtrooms November 2010 Q1


Wrong June 2012 Q2

For Court of Appeal see Appeals
Court Martial
Duty to advise after case is over September 2015 
Low fees and poor standards September 2015 
Corruption, Police August 2011 Q4
Criminal Courts Charge Oct 2015
Courts try to avoid it March 2013 Q1
Deciding whether appropriate December 2012 Q2
Discount for time spent in February 2013 Q2August 2011 Q3
Dangerous offender
Judicial indications October 2014 Q2
Death by driving
Defendant injured April 2012 Q1
Conduct of the November 2013 Q3
Deducting time on remand (the law has changed since this question was answered) February 2013 Q2,  August 2011 Q3
Defendant crosses age threshold March 2012 Q2
Injuries in death by driving cases April 2012 Q1
Right to benefit of the doubt October 2012 Q1
Depression/Mental illness affecting sentence October 2013 Q1
Detention under section 91 March 2012 Q2
Discount for plea December 2011 Q2
Disclosure and Barring service: Automatic consequence of conviction May 2014 Q3
2015 new extended terms June 2015 Q2
Long terms are counter-productive June 2015 Q2
Domestic burglary guidelines October 2010 Q1
Domestic violence March 2012 Q1, December 2013 Q3

Addiction, minimum sentences December 2016 Q1

Assessing the category when the weight falls between categories January 2014 Q1

Courier under pressure Jan 2017 Q1

Definitive guideline January 2012 part one, January 2012 part two, February 2012 Q2

Purity April 2012 Q2

Significant roles January 2014 Q1

Street dealing January 2016

Weight of drugs April 2012 Q2

Early Guilty Plea Scheme January 2013 Q1

Evidence - New, after plea October 2012 Q1

Extended sentences   

Appeal August 2013 Q2

Availability December 2012 Q1April 2013 Q1

Criteria May 2014 Q2

Consecutive sentences May 2014 Q2

Defendant has Schedule 15B conviction August 2015 Q2

Is release automatic? December 2012 Q1

Release April 2013 Q1April 2014 Q2, December 2014 Q3, August 2015 Q2

The different orders  November 2010 Q4

Time to serve December 2012 Q1

Unlawful sentences May 2014 Q2

Factual basis

Judge determining April 2013 Q1January 2016

The Newton trap November 2014

False mitigation

Guilty plea, and May 2012 whole document


Exceptional circumstances August 2016 Q1

Minimum sentences August 2012 Q2

Need to separate count when linked with another offence December 2014 Q2

Vulnerable defendant August 2012 Q2

Foreign convictions, Admissibility July 2012 Q1


Compensation and confiscation December 2013 Q1

Suspended sentence December 2015 Q1

Good character January 2016


Applying the March 2016 Q1, November 2016 Q1

Drugs definitive January 2012 part oneJanuary 2012 part twoFebruary 2012 Q2

History of September 2016

Moving outside the given starting point/range November 2016 Q1

Problems with September 2016

Sentencing in excess of March 2012 Q3

Which category? Persons under pressure Jan 2017 Q1

Guilty pleas

Can the judge reduce guilty plea credit? May 2014 Q2

Credit June 2014 Q2

Discount for April 2014 Q1

Guide to May 2012 whole document

Judge fails to mention January 2011 Q2

Life sentence December 2010 Q2

Murder February 2014 Q3

Historic cases

Guilty plea, and May 2012 whole document

Home Detention Curfew Scheme June 2013 whole document

Arson May 2013 Q5

Sentences over 4 years May 2013 Q3

Sexual offences May 2013 Q4

Hospital Orders September 2014 Q2

IPP (the law has changed since some of these questions were answered)

Commencement December 2012 Q1

Current status December 2014 Q1

Guilty plea, and May 2012 whole document

Number of still serving prisoners serving short terms December 2014 Q1, November 2015

Joint enterprise May 2015 Q2


Asking for a different one September 2011 Q3

Bias December 2016 Q2 

 Asking a judge not to sit because of July 2014 Q3

Dangerous offenders October 2014 Q2

Determining the facts January 2016

Determining matters not decided by a jury December 2014 Q2

Gives wrong release date February 2013 Q4April 2013 Q1

Indications June 2014 Q2

Sentencing for matters where there is no conviction December 2014 Q2

Legal Aid -

Mixed with private funding December 2016 Q2

Prison Adjudications September 2012 Prison and release law Q1

Letters to victims March 2012 Q1


Breach of, Other sentences can't be consecutive to it 2015 May Q3

Recall June 2011 Q2, August 2011 Q1

Life sentences

Automatic March 2014 Q2

Dangerous provisions with automatic life March 2014 Q2

Fresh sentences February 2013 Q1

Guilty plea March 2011 Q1, May 2012 whole document

Whole life February 2012 Q1

Looters September 2011 Q1, October 2011 Q1

Magistrates' Court sentencing powers December 2011 Q1

Manslaughter November 2011 Q2

Joint enterprise May 2015 Q2


Not charged October 2012 Q2

All matters should be dealt with at the same time October 2012 Q2

Mental illness/depression affecting sentence October 2013 Q1

Minimum sentences

Firearms August 2012 Q2

Guilty plea, and May 2012 whole document

Unjust, Meaning December 2016 Q1

When do they apply? February 2011 Q1,  March 2011 Q2

Mitigation, Using September 2014 Q3

Mobile phone, Solicitor calling client in prison on September 2011 Q6

Money laundering November 2011 Q1

Mothers as defendants August 2016 Q1


Attempt April 2011 Q1, November 2011 Q3

Conspiracy to June 2014 Q1

Determing the minimum term March 2016 Q2

Guilty plea discount February 2014 Q3

Whole life February 2012 Q1

Newton hearings October 2012 Q1

Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s 18

       Boiling water  December 2010 Q2

       Relationship offences   Guidelines December 2010 Q2

       Knives November 2010 Q2

Offensive weapon

Peaky blinder hat February 2014 Q1

Out of time, Appeals March 2011 Q3

Penalty points March 2013 Q2

Perverting the course of justice March 2013 Q2

Phone hacking August 2011 Q4

Photographing court rooms November 2010 Q1


Discount for December 2011 Q2

Influencing August 2014 Q3


Corruption August 2011 Q4

Misconduct November 2016 Q2

Poppy project  November 2010 Q3

Possession of alcohol in prison May 2011 Q3

Presence: Right to be present for your hearing September 2011 Q2

Pre-sentence reports

Dealing with conflicting conclusions April 2013 Q1

Correcting/challenging them October 2014 Q3

Lying in them May 2014 Q2

Probation January 2011 Q1

Previous convictions

Historical 28 July 2015

How to treat gay offences now legal 28 July 2015

Presenting previous June 2012 Q2

Previous, How to treat 28 July 2015

Prison Adjudication

Appeals September 2012 Prison and release law Q1

Funerals, Leave to attend September 2012 Prison and release law Q3

Legal Aid September 2012 Prison and release law Q1

Standard of proof September 2012 Prison and release law Q1


Categories September 2012 Prison and release law Q2

Disciplinary proceedings and sentence May 2011 Q3

Drug couriers under pressure Jan 2017 Q1

Harsh conditions May 2015 Q1

Homosexuality August 2013 Q3

In default of paying fines April 2014 Q3

Mail, receiving January 2014 Q2

Medical December 2013 Q4

Mobile phone

                 Solicitor calling prisoner on September 2011 Q6

                 Offences June 2012 Q2

Noise September 2014 Q1

Population, reducing December 2015 Q2

Right to association October 2014 Q1

Safety of inmates July 2013 Q3

Visits September 2013 Q1

Writing letters September 2013 Q3

Private funding mixed with legal aid December 2016 Q2

Privileged defendants February 2011 Q2

Probation Service

            Problems with reports January 2011 Q1

            Probation, Complaint against April 2011 Note


Consensual March 2012 Q4

Girl under 13 March 2012 Q4

Relationship November 2016 Q1

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Spent convictions 28 July 2015

Remand, Deducting time on August 2011 Q3
No judicial discretion May 2014 Q1


Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 March 2015

Extended sentences April 2014 Q2

Foreign nationals July 2016 Q2

Repeat offenders July 2014 Q3
Reports see pre-sentence reports

Representing yourself September 2011 Q4

Representation - Poor April 2013 Q2


Reviews, Prison categories September 2012 Prison and release law Q2

Robbery, Street August 2011 Q2, July 2013 Q2


Ability to increase July 2014 Q2

Can't increase the November 2013 Q3

Delay before January 2016

Sentencing remarks 

              Failure to mention guilty plea January 2011 Q2

              Giving wrong release date February 2013 Q4April 2013 Q1

Sexual assault December 2013 Q2

Sexual Offences July 2013 Q1

Child sex March 2016 Q1

Different starting points for similar offending September 2016

Sexual Offences Prevention Orders May 2011 Q2June 2011 Q1, July 2011 Q2,

            Why most SOPOs are defective: August 2011 Note

Statutory rape March 2012 Q4

Solicitor calling prisoner on mobile phone September 2011 Q6

SOPO July 2012 Q2

Street robbery August 2011 Q2

Supply of drugs

Determining the amount April 2013 Q1

Heroin and crack February 2012 Q2

Prison couriers under pressure Jan 2017 Q1

Street dealing February 2012 Q2, August 2013 Q1, August 2015 Q1

Tag time February 2014 Q2

Duties of advocates January 2014 Q2

How to assess January 2014 Q2

Late appeals January 2014 Q2

Terrorism July 2011 Q1


Breach of trust March 2012 Q3

High value not known at time August 2012 Q3

Valuable articles August 2012 Q3

Three strikes rule: When does it apply? February 2011 Q1March 2011 Q2

Trafficked victims November 2010 Q3, December 2010 Note

Transcripts, Paying for December 2016 Q2

Unlawful orders July 2012 Q2

Varying orders July 2012 Q2

Vulnerable defendant - Firearms August 2012 Q2

Whole life tariff February 2012 Q1