The Solicitor General, Michael Tomlinson KC MP, has confirmed that the sentence given to Michael Hannan for the killing of James O’Hara in Barrowford will be referred to the Court of Appeal. This could see Hannan’s prison sentence of five years and four months extended.
Michael Hannan was jailed on 27th April 2023 after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of James O’Hara in a one-punch attack on Gisburn Road, Barrowford, on 19th October 2021.
On 2nd May Pendle MP, Andrew Stephenson, wrote to the Attorney General asking for the case to be referred to the Court of Appeal for review, as he felt the sentence was unduly lenient.
In his letter Mr Stephenson wrote “Hannan, who had travelled from outside our area to drink that day, has a disturbing and escalating record of violent offending. He has numerous previous convictions stretching back over a decade including for battery in 2010 and 2011, assaulting a police officer in 2013 and public order matters. In 2018 he was sentenced to 12 months for assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he attacked – again unprovoked – another of my constituents on a train. After attacking James in October 2021, he sent disgraceful, boastful messages revelling in the violence he had unleashed. I am deeply troubled that a man with this background, being sentenced for the manslaughter of a total stranger, should be sentenced to a mere 5 years and four months.”
In his response to Mr Stephenson, the Solicitor General, Michael Tomlinson KC MP said “Thank you for your letter dated 2 May 2023 on behalf of your constituents, Mr, and Mrs O’Hara, in relation to the tragic case involving their son James O’Hara. At the outset, I would like to express my deepest condolences to them on their loss.
My office has received numerous referrals regarding this case. I share your constituents’ concerns about the sentence imposed, which I have now reviewed. I can only properly refer a case to the Court of Appeal if I consider that the sentence appears not just lenient, but unduly lenient.
After careful consideration I have decided to refer this case to the Court of Appeal, as it appears to me that this test is met. The Court will decide in due course whether the sentence imposed was unduly lenient and if so whether to substitute a different sentence.
I know how seriously you take these cases and issues of justice more widely. I am extremely grateful to you for bringing this matter to my attention and I would be grateful if you could pass on my sincere condolences to your constituents.”
Commenting on the referral Andrew Stephenson MP said “I welcome the news that after careful consideration, the Solicitor General has decided to refer the Michael Hannan’s sentence to the Court of Appeal on the grounds of it being unduly lenient. This decision whilst welcome does not on its own offer any guarantee that the sentence will be increased. I however hope the Court of Appeal, will reflect on the facts of the case and the significant public outcry such a short sentence has provoked. My thoughts remain with James O’Hara’s family and friends.”