TWO Bradford criminals were among almost 100 offenders to have their sentences increased under a scheme for unduly lenient punishments.

New statistics released by the Attorney General's Office show that in 2018, a total of 99 offenders had their sentences increased after they were challenged.

The figures include Bradford child rapist Ansar Mahmood, whose 15 years sentence was increased by five years after the Attorney General's Office referred it for being too low.

They also feature Sherie North, who was originally spared jail after she "terrorised" her own grandfather in two raids. Her sentence was increased by the Court of Appeal in February to a four year jail term.

According to the national figures, 23 people were imprisoned immediately after avoiding jail time at their original sentencing - including North.

The sentences increased were for crimes including murder, rape, robbery and sexual abuse of children.

The unduly lenient sentence scheme allows victims of crime, members of the public and the Crown Prosecution Service to ask for sentences covered under the scheme to be reviewed within 28 days of the date of sentencing.

If deemed too low by either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General, the Court of Appeal is asked to review the sentence with a view to increasing it.

A fifth of the cases referred to the Attorney General and Solicitor General which fell within the Scheme were referred to the Court of Appeal. Then 71 per cent of these resulted in an increased sentence.

Mahmood, then 37, and of Withins Close, Little Horton, was jailed at Bradford Crown Court in March last year, for repeated rape attacks on a vulnerable schoolgirl, after he was convicted of a catalogue of sex crimes.

His offences included multiple rapes and sexual assaults, which left his victim with lasting psychological damage.

He was originally sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with a 1 year extended licence period.

The Court of Appeal increased his sentence in July last year to 20 years with a 1 year extended licence.

North, then 23, of Harden Grove, Ravenscliffe, was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for two years in December at Bradford Crown Court.

She and her accomplice boyfriend Scott Cross had targeted her own grandfather on two occasions. he was failed for nine years with a five-year extended licence, having committed four robberies and and an attempted robbery in the space of a week.

North was later jailed in her absences for four years by the Court of Appeal.

The Attorney General's Office added that in the majority of cases the right sentence is delivered - 70,000 sentences were handed down at Crown Courts in England and Wales in 2018. Only around 0.1 per cent of these were found to be unduly lenient, showing that in the vast majority of cases judges get it right.

Of the 140 offenders who were referred to the Court of Appeal, they related to crimes, such as rape and serious sexual offences, homicide (13), theft-related offences such as robbery, burglary, theft and fraud (23), and serious assault offences (27).

The Solicitor General, Lucy Frazer QC MP, said: “The ULS scheme allows prosecutors, victims of crime, their family and the public to ask for a review of certain sentences they believe to be too low. Only one application is required for a case to be considered and it is important for us to receive this as early as possible in order to properly consider a case before the 28 day deadline.

“A sentencing exercise is not an exact science and in the vast majority of cases, judges get it right. The scheme is available to ensure that the Court of Appeal can review cases where there may have been a gross error in the sentencing decision.”

The scheme came into force in February 1989, launched after a public outcry over the sentencing of offenders involved in the 1986 rape of Jill Saward at her father’s vicarage.

The first ever hearing took place in July 1989 for a man who committed incest on his daughter and had his sentence doubled from three to six years.