Is mitigation better advanced by counsel?
Criminal lawyers have warned that a barrister who admitted supplying drugs, from which his 18-year-old boyfriend died, could be playing a risky game speaking to the national press prior to his sentencing next month.
Strand Chambers’ Henry Hendron appeared at the Old Bailey on 23 March to plead guilty to two counts relating to possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply.
Since then, Hendron, who was first arrested in January 2015 after his boyfriend, Miguel Jimenez, was found dead at his Temple flat, has spoken out about the tragedy.
But criminal lawyers have now warned that Hendron’s press appearances prior to the conclusion of the trial — however well-intentioned — might not be wise. Speaking to Legal Cheek earlier today, criminal solicitor-advocate who goes by the pseudonym Defence Girl on Twitter said:
This is a deeply sad case where a teenager lost his life. Defendants who seek publicity pre-sentence risk the ire of the court. Even if Mr Hendron says all the ‘right’ things, the court could be forgiven for being sceptical of motive. A few ill-judged remarks provide an arsenal for a prosecutor to seize upon, and any suggestion that he lacks remorse or is self-serving will not reflect well upon him when applied to the facts of the case.
Hendron — who has represented a number of high-profile clients including apprentice winner Stella English, the Earl of Cardigan and Nadine Dorries MP – appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier this month. In a candid interview the junior barrister — who will be sentenced on 3 May — explained how Jimenez’s death was on his “shoulders”, and that since that night, his “whole world had collapsed”.
Prominent legal blogger and anonymous criminal lawyer Secret Barrister agreed with Defence Girl, saying that in his opinion any defendant is “best advised to say nothing”.
I would generally strongly advise a client against giving media interviews prior to sentence. I just can’t see how it would help. Any good personal mitigation pertaining to remorse will most likely be far more sympathetically advanced by experienced counsel at sentence, and the client runs the risk of the judge forming the view that he is trying to manipulate the sentencing process, which is hardly a desirable starting position when you’re mitigating.
Over the weekend Hendron’s twin brother, Richard — who is also a criminal barrister at Temple’s Strand Chambers’ — broke his silence about his brother’s ordeal, and spoke to The Telegraph. Richard, who will represent his brother at his sentencing hearing next month, gave a lengthy interview that featured in the newspaper’s lifestyle section.
Claiming “prison would break Henry” the barrister revealed how his brother, as a result of severe depression, had attended further “drug-fuelled gay orgies” since Jimenez’s death. Furthermore, Richard explained how his brother’s health has suffered since the tragic incident, with Henry — just a week after his boyfriend’s death — being admitted to hospital after he took drugs and collapsed at a party.
With sentencing less than three weeks away, criminal lawyers will be interested to find out what impact — if any — Henry’s actions will have on the conclusion of this sad case.
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