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What is considered as assisting an offender?

  • Posted
Met Police under urgent review over forensics mishandling

A recent episode of Channel 4’s 24 Hours in Police Custody dealt with a gradual, worsening feud between a father and a boyfriend which led to a fatal stabbing. Robert Parkins was convicted of Alex Fitzpatrick’s murder and received a life sentence with a minimum term of 19 years.

One relevant issue that arose, was the arrest and caution of Parkins’ parents for assisting an offender. This arrest was made after it was discovered that Parkins mother and father, after the stabbing, drove their son eight miles outside of Cambridgeshire and into London to stay with his aunt.

Under Section 4 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, the act of assisting an offender requires one person to be guilty of committing an offence and that another person has intentionally acted in such a way which impedes the apprehension of that guilty individual. Actions which constitute assisting an offender could range from harbouring the offender, hindering the investigation or, similar to that of Parkins’ case, helping the offender escape apprehension or prosecution. In cases where the court can find that the actions of the defendant constitute and satisfy Section 4 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, an individual could face a maximum sentence of up to 14 years, subject to conditions.

This is a complex area of law with severe consequences for those convicted. It is therefore very important if faced with any criminal offence to obtain expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Our criminal defence solicitors have successfully represented a number of people for the same allegation. If you would like to speak to a member of the department please ring 0161 696 6188 or complete our online enquiry forms.


    • sentenced for assisting an offender who has now changed plea to not guiltyvicky warren
    • Posted

    Hi - my daughter received a 12 month intensive referral order for assiting an offender (murder only) - the alleged offender has now vacated the guilty plea and the trial starts in May 2024 - my question is as the offender has not yet been found guilty is there even a charge of assisting an offender to answer? made sense when he had pleaded guilty but now that has been vacated this makes no sense at all.

    Response from Stephensons

    Thank you for your comment, this is an area our team may be able to assist you with but would need some further information to advise accurately, if you would like to call us on 0161 696 6188, alternatively please complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.