Comorbid British veteran offenders: Themes in judges’ sentencing remarks

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Despite evidence showing an association between dual diagnosis and increased risk of interpersonal violence and criminal justice system involvement, there is a dearth of information about how this plays out in sentencing offenders. This study examined themes in the sentencing of comorbid British war veteran offenders (PTSD/ SUD) and described the judicial approach to sentencing this category of offenders. Judges’ sentencing remarks were extracted from Westlaw UK, a large subscription database containing legal materials from the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions. Using both the explicit and latent content of the sentencing remarks, the following issues were explored: judges’ orientations and aims when sentencing comorbid war veteran offenders, how they reconcile problems associated with sentencing mentally ill offenders who were also intoxicated at the time of the offence and how they balance competing interests of society’s responsibility to war veterans and the protection of society. Two major findings emerged. First, the cases fell in a two-way typology patterned by treatment motivation and engagement (high versus low) and the primary cause of the offending behaviour (PTSD versus SUD). Secondly, for the most part, judges considered an offender’s status as a war veteran and adopted a therapeutic and rehabilitative perspective at sentencing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-118
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date08 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2021


  • Veterans
  • comorbidity
  • criminal appeals cases
  • judiciary
  • sentencing remarks


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