Man’s ‘indefinite’ jail term is overturned

AN ALCOHOLIC who was jailed indefinitely for trying to attack two police officers with a machete has had his potentially lifelong sentence overturned by appeal judges.

Billy John Wickens, 38, of Hobney Rise, Westham, admitted threatening to kill and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to PCs Nick Glassock and Jonathan Gillings.

In May, the “dangerous” thug was sentenced to indefinite imprisonment for public protection (IPP) – a sentence without time limit – by a judge at Lewes Crown Court.

But this week, after an appeal by his lawyers, Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Mr Justice Jack and Judge Martin Stephens QC quashed the sentence and granted him an automatic release date.

The judges gave him an ‘extended sentence’ of nine years, meaning he will be released after three-and-a-half years, but then be subject to licence conditions with the prospect of prison recall for five-and-a-half years after that.

Giving the appeal judgment, Judge Stephens told the court how Wickens attacked the two officers when they were called by paramedics who were trying to treat him for self-inflicted injuries.

The paramedics had found him so drunk on the morning of October 20 last year that they needed police help, but Wickens objected to their presence and flew into a rage.

He picked up a machete and brandished it in a threatening manner, swinging it at one officer and then throwing the weapon at the other. He was then arrested.

Sentencing him, the crown court judge said he considered Wickens a ‘very high, very significant risk’ of causing serious harm to members of the public and, therefore, deserved the open-ended term.

His barrister, Adrian Turner, argued that the judge was wrong to find him ‘dangerous’ and should have considered other options to protect the public.

Judge Stephens said, “We have concluded that the finding of dangerousness was entirely justified in all the circumstances of this case.

“However, we accept the proposition that, if steps can be taken to control the appellant’s drinking, the risk of his committing further offences causing serious harm to others could be significantly reduced.

“We think that this can be achieved by an extended sentence, rather than an indeterminate term.”