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In this matter the Court had to consider the exercise of a discretion to record a conviction against a juvenile and, in particular, whether or not the recording of a conviction would adversely affect his prospects of employment. The appellant had committed certain sexual offences when he was 15 years and 11 months old. He was convicted on a count of rape and a conviction was recorded. The discretion as to whether or not to record a conviction was controlled by s 176 of the Youth Justice Act. The matters relevant to the exercise of the discretion included the impact of recording a conviction on the child’s chances of obtaining and retaining employment. The sentencing judge made the assumption that there was no starting point that the recording of a conviction would adversely impact on the ability of the child to obtain employment. The Court of Appeal (Mullins J with whom the President and Morrison JA agreed) disagreed. It was observed that Courts should proceed, and have done so in the past, on the assumption that the recording of a conviction will impinge adversely on a child’s rehabilitation and employment prospects. Mullins J said:
“The authorities therefore strongly support as the starting point for a youth of the applicant’s age being sentenced under the Act the inference that the recording of a conviction would have an adverse impact on the youth in respect of prospects for rehabilitation and employment. There was nothing in the circumstances applying to the applicant that justified the assumption that was made by the sentencing judge that the applicant would not be so affected by the recording of a conviction.”
The Court altered the sentence by ordering that no conviction be recorded.