Roisin Connor’s PSR

Did Roisin Connor have to get sent down?

Before an offender is sentenced, a Pre-sentence Report (PSR) is prepared for the presiding judge by a member of the National Probation Service. When the character of Roisin Connor was created, a PSR was researched and written for her. Roisin’s PSR and further information on how it was compiled can be found in this section.

Accompanying Notes

Roisin Connor has ended up in HMP Larkhall for her role in a company fraud- but what might have happened if the Director General of the National Probation Service had written Roisin’s Pre-sentence Report (PSR)? What sentence would Eithne Wallis have recommended to the judge? PSRs are written reports which include a systematic assessment of the nature and the causes of the offender’s behaviour, their risk to the public and the action which can be taken to reduce the likelihood of re-offending. They specifically look at the impact of the offence on the victim. As you’ll see, the PSR that Eithne has written for Roisin:

  • Would be based on interviews, records and meetings to gain a full history of the background to the crime.
  • Analyses the offence (conspiracy to defraud – covering up Cassie’s £47,000 fraud at the bank where they worked) and the circumstances in which it took place (romantic involvement, little direct financial gain).
  • Assesses the offender (her family situation – married with 2 kids; no previous criminal record; no abuse of drink or drugs).
  • Assesses the risk of harm to the public and the likelihood of reoffending (both low, especially if Roisin were to be given “a period of Probation Service.
  • Supervision in the community, constructively challenging her risk-taking and decision-making in relation to her offence”).

Concludes:

A prison sentence is almost inevitable and would certainly meet the ‘punishment’ element of the court order but would be highly damaging to her young children.

An alternative would be for the court to sentence Roisin to a Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Order. This would restrict her liberty, deal with the behaviour which resulted in this serious crime, and provide some community reparation. It could consist of:

  • A 22 session Think First groupwork programme run by the probation service.
  • Individual sessions with a probation officer, addressing employment issues and her fraught situation with her personal relationships.
  • Up to 100 hours unpaid community service work (eg working at a local charity shop or a community farm).

The court could also consider tagging (home curfew with electronic monitoring). With thanks to David Croall of Greater Manchester Probation Service for researching this PSR.

Pre-Sentence Report

This is a pre-sentence report as defined in Section 3(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. It has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the National Standard for pre-sentence reports. This report is a confidential document

Offender’s details:
Name: Roisin Connor
Address: HMP Larkhall, Larkhall

Date of birth: 28/07/67
Age: 34 years

Offence details:
Offence(s) and date(s) dealt Conspiracy to Defraud (December 2000 – June within this PSR 2001)

Court details:
Court: Larkhall Crown Court
Petty Sessions Area: Larkhall
Supervising Court: Larkhall Magistrates Court
Hearing Date: 21/03/2002

This is not an expedited report

PSR writer’s details:
Name: Eithne Wallis
Official Title: Probation Officer

Date PSR completed and signed: 20 March 2002

This report relates only to the matters before the Court today, and must not be used in respect of unrelated court appearances. Copies of reports provided to defence advocates are issued on the understanding that they are returned to court probation staff at the conclusion of today’s hearing.

Introduction

1.1 The following sources of information were used to prepare this report:-

a) two interviews with Roisin Connor at HMP Larkhall;
b) the Crown Prosecution Indictment and Witness Statements;
c) a Police National Computer printout which confirms that Ms Connor has no previous convictions or cautions whatsoever;
d) sight of documentation from the defendant’s solicitor.

1.2 The following have been consulted:-

i) the defendant’s solicitor;
ii) the Fines Enforcement Office who inform me that Ms Connor has no fines outstanding;
iii) the defendant’s husband, Mr Aidan Connor;
iv) the Probation Officer responsible for preparing the Pre-Sentence Report on Ms Connor’s co-defendant, Ms Cassie Tyler.

1.3 The following information has been verified:-

i) family circumstances;
ii) employment history;
iii) income;
iv) accommodation status.

1.4 Ms Connor has not previously been known to the Probation Service.

Offence analysis

2.1 Ms Connor has been found guilty after trial of an offence of Conspiracy to Defraud. The Crown Prosecution Service Indictment and Witness Statements note that Ms Connor’s offence involved purposely concealing the matter of Fraud perpetrated by her co-defendant, Ms Tyler. My contact with the defendant’s solicitor confirms that the financial value of the Fraud committed by Ms Tyler totalled approximately £47000. Despite her finding of guilt, Ms Connor states that she is nonetheless prepared to accept the sentence of the Court.

2.2 Although the defendant asserts that she remains at variance with certain aspects of the Prosecution Evidence, Ms Connor now admits that between December 2000 and June 2001 she chose to conceal from her employer, an international investment bank, that Ms Tyler was forging signatures on banking and trading transactions concerning the derivatives market. When challenged during interview as to why she had made the decision to behave in such a manner, Ms Connor was at first extremely reluctant to discuss the reasons behind her actions. But, over the course of our two lengthy interviews the defendant eventually disclosed that the sole motivation behind her offence was to “protect” her co-defendant by preventing Ms Tyler from being detected. Ms Connor informs me that she feels a deep affection for her former work colleague Ms Tyler, and that she felt obliged to hide her co-defendant’s fraudulent activities in an effort to ensure that nothing damaged their friendship. She believed that she had no alternative course of action than to ignore her friend’s fraud. Ms Connor tells me that prior to our interviews she had never informed anyone of her true feelings for Ms Tyler. Perhaps in view of her married status, the defendant maintains that she now feels a large degree of embarrassment and confusion over the disclosure and respectfully requests that the preceding information is not read aloud in open Court due to its sensitive nature.

2.3 As stated in the Prosecution Evidence, Ms Connor herself made no direct financial gain at all by her actions and the defendant denies any financial motivation to her behaviour. Be that as it may, she concedes that she did indeed benefit from her complicity by taking advantage of the lifestyle and holidays which Ms Tyler enjoyed with her and which her co-defendant had paid for with her monetary proceeds. With the benefit of hindsight Ms Connor acknowledges that her offence constitutes a significant breach of trust, especially due to her relatively senior position at the bank as a Personal Assistant to a Partner of the firm. Although Ms Connor originally acted on the spur of the moment with her behaviour being initially triggered by her discovery of Ms Tyler’s fraud, the fact that she continued to conceal her colleague’s activities for several months indicates a great level of subsequent forward planning and organisation. One aspect of this case which the Court may consider unusual is that I understand that throughout the period of fraud, Ms Connor kept her actions completely secret from Ms Tyler. The defendant offers that in no way did she seek any consequent gratitude from Ms Tyler and that she was acting in a purely “selfless” manner.

2.4 In further discussing her offence Ms Connor puts forward that during the seven month period of her Conspiracy she was in full control of her behaviour and that she was not under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Having had time to consider the consequences of her actions whilst on custodial remand, the defendant does exhibit some regret to her decision to conceal her co-defendant’s criminal transactions. She has a reasonable awareness of how her own offence will have impacted upon her employer, but is more of the opinion that the real victim in this case is her own family rather than the bank. She rationalises this by offering that should she ultimately receive a custodial sentence today, then her children will be deprived of their mother, adding that attending to their needs is far more important to her than offering a false apology to the bank over her offence.

Offender assessment

3.1 Prior to her present remand in custody Ms Connor lived in the family home with her husband and two children aged three and six years. Having left college after taking her A levels, the defendant has been employed in the banking sector for the past 15 years, for five years with her most recent employer as confirmed by sight of her former contract of employment. She describes her literacy and numeracy as “excellent”. Ms Connor recalls that she experienced a difficult childhood and adolescence in that she and her brothers and sisters had little in the way of material possessions or financial comforts. She puts forward that she had worked hard to establish herself in her position of Personal Assistant to a partner of the bank, earning £24950 per annum in the process, but accepts that due to her conviction she will never be employed in such a capacity again. Ms Connor claims that at present the family has no outstanding financial debts or bill payment arrears.

3.2 My contact with the defendant’s husband elicits that he is employed as a manager of a carpet warehouse, and that he remains committed to supporting his wife at the present time, although it was obvious that he has been devastated by her offending behaviour and deception. Ms Connor informs me that she has enjoyed a “close friendship” with her co-defendant, Ms Tyler for the past two years and that she is keen to ensure that her husband and other family members do not discover her liaison. As noted earlier, Ms Tyler respectfully reports that such sensitive information is not read aloud in open Court. Until her initial arrest for today’s matter the defendant had no prior contact with the Criminal Justice System, being previously of good character. She recalls that until her offence she had sought to prioritise her parental, family and employment commitments, and during interview it was obvious that her charge has caused her massive upset and stress. She describes no difficulties with her use of alcohol, offering that her intake is on a social basis only, and that she has never used, or even had contact with, illegal drugs.

Assessment of the risk of harm to the public and the likelihood of reoffending

4.1 Given the degree of planning and organisation behind Ms Connor’s offence, the Court will undoubtedly be concerned over the likelihood of her reoffending. Whilst today’s matter is serious, there are however no indications of any potential risk of specific harm to the public; nor do I assess the defendant herself to be at risk of self-harm.

4.2 Ms Connor is now fully aware of what the consequences are of conspiracy to defraud her employer, and her arrest by the Police and subsequent Court case and custodial remand have caused her much distress. The salutary effect that this has had on her and the fact that Ms Connor has stated that she has no intentions of repeating her actions would lead me to assess that the risk of her reoffending is low. I believe that if the likelihood of her reoffending is to be kept low, then this could best be achieved by a period of Probation Service supervision in the community, constructively challenging her risk taking and decision making in relation to her offence.

Conclusion

5.1 Despite being found guilty after trial, Ms Connor has fully co-operated in the preparation of this report and has started to accept some responsibility for her behaviour. She confirms that she is prepared to accept the sentence of the Court but with reservations, as outlined below.

5.2 Appreciating the monetary value of the fraud she concealed, the breach of trust involved, and the fact that Ms Connor has been found guilty after trial, it is acknowledged by both myself and the defendant that she almost certainly faces the likelihood of a custodial sentence today. A prison sentence would undoubtedly punish Ms Connor and protect the public for its duration, but I do not consider that this would constructively challenge her offending behaviour. Ms Connor herself also has grave concerns how her enforced separation from her family would adversely affect her two young children who would be deprived of their main carer.

5.3 Whilst I concede the seriousness of the offence, should the Court be even prepared to consider the possibility of a non-custodial option then I can confirm that Ms Connor is in principle a suitable candidate for the full range of relevant community based disposals. Electronic Monitoring within the context of a Curfew Order is available and this could act as a direct restriction of her liberty in the home environment. Ms Connor’s husband verifies that he would accept the installation of the monitoring equipment within the family home.

5.4 However, the Court may wish to consider the imposition of a Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Order with an added “Think First” groupwork condition under Schedule 2 (3) of the Powers of the Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. This could mark the gravity of her offence and provide a considerable restriction on her liberty. The Community Punishment element would require her to make reparation to the wider community. I have assessed Ms Connor as suitable to perform unpaid work for the benefit of the community and I can confirm that appropriate work is available for her. Such work can include, for example, painting, decorating, gardening/landscape maintenance, or working in a charity shop or at a local community farm.

5.5 I consider Ms Connor suitable to be accepted on the Think First Groupwork Programme at her local Probation Office and I believe that she would greatly benefit from participation in it. This nationally accredited programme of 22 sessions is a demanding proposal. It is aimed at offenders who have been assessed as to their suitability for this form of intervention. In addition to the 22 sessions there are a number of individual meetings with their Probation Officer before and after the programme in order to prepare and build on the thinking and problem solving skills acquired. The specific aims of the group for Ms Connor would be:-

i) To help her understand how her decision-making processes have linked to her offending behaviour.
ii) To develop new skills and strategies in order to manage her behaviour, resolve her problems and therefore to avoid reoffending.
iii) For her to increase her understanding of victim perspective.

5.6 Ms Connor would be required to attend the next available programme commencing May 2002 for two mornings a week for 11 weeks. I also believe that the associated Community Rehabilitation supervision could also have much benefit for Ms Connor and individual sessions on a weekly basis with her Probation Officer would focus on the following areas:-

a) Addressing her future re-employment by providing specialist education, training and employment advice.
b) Offering confidential counselling for her to come to terms with resolving the personal conflict and emotional turmoil she is experiencing in terms of her being able to reconcile her marital commitments with her largely hidden feelings for her co-defendant.

5.7 Regular Progress Reports can of course be provided, if requested. If the Court should agree to a highly restrictive community sentence then I have made Ms Connor aware of the responsibilities that will be placed upon her. She has expressed her willingness to co-operate.

Signed

Eithne Wallis
Probation Officer

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