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Concern about prison sentence referred to Court of Appeal

The CCRC has referred the case of Mr Joseph Tsang to the Court of Appeal due to concerns about his sentence and the lawfulness of one of his convictions.

Mr Tsang was sentenced to a total of 15 ½ years’ imprisonment after being convicted of sexual offences and failing to surrender to custody. Prior to being sentenced, Mr Tsang spent several months on electronically monitored curfew (“tag”) and was entitled, by law, to have 50% of that time deducted from his sentence. He also spent time in prison in Hong Kong before being extradited to the United Kingdom and was entitled to have this time deducted from his sentence as well. Unfortunately, the Crown Court did not take those periods of time into account when determining Mr Tsang’s sentence.

CCRC Chairman Helen Pitcher OBE said:

“Miscarriages of justice are not just limited to wrongful convictions. Sentencing can be a very technical exercise and mistakes are sometimes made. It is important, both to individuals and the Criminal Justice System as a whole, that errors are identified and put right. We have therefore referred Mr Tsang’s sentence to the Court of Appeal as there is a real possibly that it will be reduced.”

During its review of the case, the CCRC also discovered that the authorities in Hong Kong had not provided consent for Mr Tsang to be prosecuted for failing to surrender to custody. This makes that conviction unlawful. The CCRC has therefore referred that conviction to the Court of Appeal because there is a real possibility that it will be quashed.  The CCRC has not referred Mr Tsang’s convictions for sexual offences to the Court of Appeal.

This press release was issued by the Communications Team, Criminal Cases Review Commission. They can be contacted by phone on: 0121 232 0900 or by email:     

[Update – the sentence was reduced in May 2023]

Notes to Editors 

  1. The CCRC is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice. 
  2. There are currently 11 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice. 
  3. The CCRC usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts. 
  4. The CCRC considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”. 
  5. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair. 
  6. More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at The CCRC can be found on Twitter @ccrcupdate and Instagram the_ccrc