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Murder Sentence Changes Unveiled UK

Guest Lottie

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Some murderers could serve less than 10 years in prison under guidelines unveiled by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Woolf.

But it would only be in extraordinary circumstances - for example, if they had given themselves up before their crime had even been detected, he said.

People admitting serious offences at the first opportunity could be entitled to a 33% cut in their minimum sentence.

The Tories have attacked the plans as a severe blow for relatives of victims.


Confessing at earliest opportunity - 10 years

Pleading guilty at trial - 11 years and three months

Changing plea to guilty - 13 years and six months

Maintaining innocence - 15 years

The guidelines recognise the need to spare victims and witnesses the trauma of going to court where possible, by allowing lighter sentences for guilty pleas and co-operation.

Offenders who maintained their innocence until their trial but then pleaded guilty would be entitled to a one-quarter reduction in the minimum sentence they must serve.

Those who changed their plea to guilty after their trial had begun would be entitled to a one-tenth reduction.

Lord Woolf said it was extremely important for an offender to show "that he accepted he had acted contrary to the law and was prepared to take his punishment".

"It is very easy to say sorry - but to stand up and say, especially in the case of a serious crime, 'I have committed it, I know I have, I plead guilty, and I am going to take my punishment,' is an important factor.

If they plead guilty at the last moment, they are still entitled to some credit - but it is less credit

"If they plead guilty at the last moment, they are still entitled to some credit - but it is less credit."

If the evidence against an offender was overwhelming, "there is not the same argument for granting a reduction as there would be in other cases", Lord Woolf added.

He said that in some cases the draft guidelines would "almost certainly" allow a one-third reduction on the current 15-year standard tariff for murder.

"Someone who would get 15 years would now get 10 years," he said.

"The sentence remains life imprisonment. What it will mean is that you will come up for parole earlier than you would otherwise".

According to Lord Woolf, it will still remain the case that murderers will only be released if the Parole Board is satisfied that they are no longer a danger.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "What kind of message will this send?

"This would be a severe blow for friends and relatives of the murder victims and a discouragement to those who enforce law and order."

With over 800 murders a year, up by a sixth in only five years, this reinforces the need for punishments that deter killers

David Davis

Shadow home secretary

He said: "Parliament should set the sentencing guidelines. David Blunkett cannot claim to be tough on crime if he will allow murderers to walk free after just seven years.

"With over 800 murders a year, up by a sixth in only five years, this reinforces the need for punishments that deter killers."

Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, was more vehement than the Tories in his criticism, accusing Lord Woolf of "losing the plot".

"Lord Woolf has an arrogant contempt for victims of crime and the law-abiding public," Mr Brennan said.

"It's partly due to the lenient sentencing from judges that violent crime and crime in general is spiralling out of control in the UK."

We are at serious risk of undermining public confidence in the criminal justice system

George Galli-Atkinson, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed after a driver mounted a pavement and struck her - and was not jailed - told BBC News: "We are at serious risk of undermining public confidence in the criminal justice system."

Harry Fletcher, of the National Association of Probation Officers, told BBC News cutting the average sentence murderers served would be "political suicide".

The guidelines also encourage judges to sentence some people to "weekend jails".

Such a sentence allows people to maintain jobs and family links while serving part of their week inside.

Lord Woolf said: "What we earnestly hope, as a result of these proposals, is that we will use custody more effectively and more appropriately than we do now."


Please tell me I am not reading this bs!! Please tell me this is a joke! Is this man on drugs or something? disgust.gif I don't know what to say...I am disgusted! disgust.gif But it does not suprise me... nothing suprises me about what happens in this country anymore. Again another reason to add to the ever increasing long list of why our country is going to the dogs..Its going to kick off here big time, how much more of this pc ****can we take?

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We Feel We Have Been Robbed

Draft sentencing guidelines released on Monday include a plan that could see some murderers released after as little as seven years in prison.

BBC News Online spoke to the relatives of one murdered woman about the impact that would have on the families of victims.

In July last year Amanda Champion's badly decomposed body was found near her home in Ashford, Kent, three weeks after she had last been seen alive.

The 21-year-old, who had a mental age of 15, was strangled and her throat cut.

Earlier this year James Ford, 26, pleaded guilty to her murder and was sentenced to life with a recommendation that he serve at least 15 years in prison.

Reduction plan

Under proposed new rules put forward by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, a quarter of a sentence could be cut if an accused admits committing a murder after a trial date is set.

The sentence could be reduced by one-tenth if a guilty plea came after a trial had begun, while one-third of the jail term would be cut if it came "at the earliest opportunity".

The largest reduction would come for those who admitted a murder that had not even been detected. In those cases the murderer would face as little as seven years in prison.

If the draft regulations had applied to this case, Amanda's murderer could have had up to one-third knocked off his sentence.

Amanda's uncle, Lewis Champion, said the plan makes no sense: "This person who comitted this crime has ruined the lives of more than 30 people.

"We were reasonaby pleased there was a minimum sentence of 15 years and we're just keeping our fingers crossed he's never let out at all again."

Part of the rationale behind the proposal would be to spare the victim's family the trauma of having to undergo a trial in which the potentially grisly details of their loved one's death would be laid bare.

Need to know

But Mr Champion said those are precisely the details that families need to know.

"We feel we've been robbed because we were denied the opportunity to hear what happened," he said.

Linda Ades, Amanda's aunt, said it was vital in the long term for families to get their day in court.

She said: "At the time [of the trial] you think 'have we got to listen to that?', but now you realise you need to hear the details.

"You feel cheated that you don't get to hear any of it."

She acknowledged there may be some benefit for young witnesses not having to testify in the event of an early plea "but it doesn't really make you feel any better, does it?"

She added: "This is absolutely no deterrent. There'll be more murders I reckon. If that law came out there'd be uproar."


Mr Champion said he was told Amanda's killer had prepared a letter for the court expressing remorse for her death, but no such feeling was ever passed on the family.

Such actions would likely form at least part of the "absolute candour" required from an accused for the largest reductions to be on offer under the new guidelines.

But Mr Champion said even that part of the proposal went too far.

"Not even that would justify it. Nothing at all is worth taking five years off a murder sentence."

He said a long prison sentence was the sole solace that families denied the chance to confront an accused in court could hope for.

"Even 10 years down the line, the first thing we think of in the morning will still be Amanda, the last thing we think of at night will still be Amanda.

"We get a full life sentence, so why shouldn't they?"


"We get a full life sentence, so why shouldn't they?"

Because in our country the criminal is the victim.


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Sounds like they've taken a left from Canada's criminal justice book here. Isn't it AWFUL!? People breaking into your home to steal a TV can get twice as much as someone who has gone out and MURDERED someone.

wtf is right.

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It sounds like whatever madness is taking over governments is spreading. sad.gif

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Sigh............ any criminal deserves to rot especially those that kill others, they deserve to rot for life. This is disgraceful, how can they be so soft on them, these are criminals, those who have broken our laws, hurt even killed people and they wont be reduce their jail sentences. I just cant believe this!

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I told you! I told you! I told everyone that by 2050 murders would be given 2 weeks holiday abroad to get over 'the circumstances which led them to kill in the first place'. This is just the start!

What ever happened to locking people away for 25 years?!

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