Case details

In the matter of an application by Jason Loughlin for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland)

Case ID: UKSC 2015/0110

Case summary


In exercising the discretion in s.74(3)(b) of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, is the Specified Prosecutor required to ask him/herself whether the sentencing court could conclude that the circumstances applicable when the sentence as passed had changed as a result of knowing failures by the assisting offender to give assistance in accordance with the assisting offender agreement?


On 4 August 2008, Robert and Ian Stewart, former members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, turned themselves in to the Police Service of Northern Ireland and entered into assisting offender agreements pursuant to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 ('the Act'). Those agreements required them to provide information and assistance to ongoing investigations, truthful evidence in the trials of accomplices, and guilty pleas to offences they admitted. They duly pleaded guilty to various offences including the murder of Thomas English in 2000 and membership of a proscribed organisation (the UVF). In recognition of the assistance they provided, the minimum tariff of the life sentences to which they were subject was reduced by 75% such that, from a starting point of 22 years and once further reductions for their guilty pleas and personal circumstances had been taken into account, they each had to serve a minimum of three years. They then both gave evidence at the trial of 12 alleged accomplices, which ended with the acquittal on all counts of 11 of the defendants (the twelfth was convicted on evidence other than the Stewarts’ testimony). In a lengthy judgment, the trial judge found the Stewarts’ evidence to have been wholly unreliable and often dishonest. It fell to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether the assisting offender agreements had been breached and whether the Stewarts should be referred back to the sentencing court pursuant to s.74 of the Act. She decided not to refer them for re-sentencing. Jason Loughlin, one of the acquitted defendants, brought judicial review proceedings against the DPP’s decision. The Divisional court of the High Court of Justice granted the application and quashed the DPP’s decision, remitting the matter to the Public Prosecution Service for a fresh decision.

Judgment appealed

[2015] NIQB 33



The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland


Jason Loughlin

Notice Parties
  1. Robert John Stewart
  2. David Ian Stewart



Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes

Hearing start date

20 Jun 2017

Hearing finish date

20 Jun 2017

Watch hearing
20 Jun 2017 Morning session Afternoon session