Criminal fails in sentence appeal

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A “DANGEROUS” man who stabbed his cousin in the neck because he refused to go out on the town with him has failed in a bid to overturn his potentially lifelong sentence.

Andrew Derek Tait, 28, of Peebles Road, Sunderland, was jailed indefinitely for public protection (IPP) at Newcastle Crown Court in 2008 for wounding Marc Johnston with intent.

Still awaiting release having now served his three-year minimum jail term, Tait challenged the open-ended sentence –- which is almost identical to a life term – at London’s Court of Appeal.

But three senior judges ruled it was right that Tait should remain inside until a parole board rules he is safe enough to be released into the community.

Lord Justice Moses told the court that, in April 2007, Mr Johnston refused to go out for the night with Tait, who took the refusal badly.

Tait, who had previous convictions for violence, went round to Mr Johnston’s house and stabbed his cousin in the neck when he opened the door, the judge said.

After the attack, Tait taunted his victim: “You’ll not take the p*** again, and you’ll want to get some pressure on that before you bleed to death”.

The judge said Mr Johnston, who was assaulted by Tait on a previous occasion, was very lucky not to die from the wound.

With Tait still in jail nearly four years after he was sentenced, his lawyers came to Court of Appeal in a bid to get his punishment changed to a conventional, determinate term.

They claimed Tait is a narcoleptic whose violence only stemmed from the mixing of his medication with alcohol.

But Lord Justice Moses, sitting with Mr Justice Irwin and Mr Justice King, ruled Tait is a “danger to the public” and merited his indefinite sentence.

The judge said: “The offence in question demonstrated the very real danger of serious harm that this appellant presented to the public, as exemplified by the very serious and inexplicable violence on this occasion.

“In these circumstances we take the view that the judge was clearly right in the sentence of IPP that he passed with the minimum term of three years.”