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R v Ong [2001] Cr App R (S) 117

Public Nuisance – Criminal Offence – Betting – Financial Gain

Facts

The defendant had planned to switch off the floodlights at a Premier League football game between Charlton and Liverpool, as part of a betting scam that involved placing bets on the fact that the lights would go out.  The defendant was charged with conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.  The defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years imprisonment.  He appealed against this sentence.

Issues

Whether or not the sentence of four years imprisonment for conspiracy to cause a public nuisance was manifestly unjust or excessive.  Whether or not the switching off of the floodlights at the game would have been capable of constituting a public nuisance.  Whether or not leave to appeal was to be allowed in this case.

Held

Leave to appeal was denied.  The defendant was guilty of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.  The game would have been plunged into darkness, causing difficulty for thousands of other spectators and preventing them from witnessing the game which they had paid to see.  This was an interference with the enjoyment of the amenities enjoyed by a class of people, and was therefore capable of constituting a public nuisance.  This was motivated by financial gain as a result of the betting scam being instituted by the defendant and the other members of the bookmaking cartel who were based in Asia.  On these facts, the sentence of four years imprisonment was not manifestly excessive or unjust even considering the fact that the defendant had pleaded guilty to the offence.


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