SENTENCING in a high profile case, when emotions are running high, is extremely difficult.

Yesterday, as the Sophie Moss case came to an end, the judge – Teesside’s most senior – clearly took his time before passing sentence and then the Crown Prosecution Service took the unusual step of releasing a statement explaining the way it had handled the case.

We understand that there was no evidence that could reasonably convict Sam Pybus of anything other than manslaughter; that there was no evidence he had set out to kill intentionally; that he had no history of violence.

This means that, when his guilty plea is considered, his sentence of four years and eight months is within the guidelines for cases such as this. It also means that, when his time in custody is taken off, he could serve three years or less.

That doesn’t feel right. Pybus consumed a reckless amount of alcohol and used such violence on a woman that he killed her. He then failed to get help to her at the first opportunity. Four years and eight months seems a lenient sentence for such an appalling crime.

No sentence can replace a life or compensate the victim’s young children for the loss of their mother. But a sentence does indicate that justice has been done and that there is a degree of fairness after a violent tragedy.

We hope that the sentence is appealed. The judge and the CPS may have acted properly, but they seem improperly constrained by guidelines that need to be reviewed by a higher authority.