Jo represented a reservist charged with desertion with intent to avoid active service under S8(2)(b) Armed Forces Act 2006. Whilst deployed on UN exercises at OP TOSCA in Cyprus he had left the barracks and returned to the UK without leave and with intent to avoid service. This had the effect of embarrassing the regiment and the country in front of the international community as it did not go unnoticed that a British soldier had deserted.
Desertion with intent to avoid exercises carries a maximum of life imprisonment and the sentencing guidelines recommend a starting point of three years custody. Only the implement of the Human Rights Act 1996 abolished the right of the Court Martial to order that a deserter be shot by the firing squad.
Jo was able to persuade Catterick Court Martial to impose a suspended sentence despite the departure from the sentencing guidelines. She made the point that a sentence of immediate custody may deter the recruitment of reservists. Further, that a distinction must be drawn between desertion from an exercise involving active combat and one where the risk of injury to others is relatively low such as OP TOSCA.
Jo was instructed by AFLAA.