July 2023

Norfolk judge who described sexual predator as ‘Jack the lad’ rebuked

A part-time judge who described a convicted sex offender as “Jack the lad” during sentencing has been criticised by a Court of Appeal judge.

Recorder John Hardy used the phrase when sentencing Aaron Hewson, 33, for three sexual assaults at Norwich Crown Court in April.

Lady Justice Macur, who oversaw an appeal hearing on Thursday, said she “deplored” Recorder Hardy’s indication.

Hewson’s sentence was increased after being considered unduly lenient.

The Rape Crisis charity said “language really matters” when talking about sexual assault.

Hewson, from Cromer, Norfolk, had been jailed of three years and 11 months in April after a trial.

Three appeal judges – Lady Justice Macur, Mrs Justice Cockerill and Mr Justice Murray – increased that term to seven years at the Court of Appeal after concluding that the original sentence was unduly lenient.

They upheld an appeal by Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson.

Charles Burton, who represented Hewson, had argued that the sentence was not unduly lenient and should not be increased.

Appeal judges heard that Hewson had convictions for violence and, when a juvenile, had been convicted of sex offences.

He had also admitted possessing an “extreme” pornographic image.

Lady Justice Macur said appeal judges had concluded that there had been “significant flaws” in Recorder Hardy’s approach to sentencing.

She said he had indicated when passing sentence that evidence suggested Hewson was a “Jack the lad character”.

“We deplore the judge’s description as indicating that the defendant was ‘Jack the lad’,” she said.