Friday, 3 January 2014

The cost of murder?

Back in the great days of Iain Dale's blog, an axe murderer freed from prison used to hang around online like a very unpleasant and particularly unwelcome bladder infection. Everyone hated him and he was subject to suitably offensive comments. However, given that one of the reasons he bludgeoned his landlady to death in the first place was because he craved attention, I'm not sure how successful the strategy was. The consensus seemed to be that he should never have been released. 

Europe doesn't like our whole-life sentences for the most heinous of murders; the sentencing of Lee Rigby's killers, prime candidates for whole-life terms, is on hold pending a resolution of the issue. Officially, we just have one sentence for murder - life - but this is modified with a recommendation defining what 'life' should mean. In some cases it means seven years. 

We have neither evolved different 'degrees' of murder as distinct criminal charges nor jail terms in excess of a hundred years, as have been long used in the US. Europe believes all murderers are redeemable, though I suspect that few EU Commissioners or ECHR judges would be happy to live next to one. They want to see even Lee Rigby's killers enjoying the prospect of release. We mostly disagree. 

As the matter must be resolved before Rigby's killers are disposed of - postponing sentencing too long will undoubtedly violate their European Rights - this will be a good test of Cameron's true resolve.


JuliaM said...

A test I fully expect him to fail...

Anonymous said...

"this will be a good test of Cameron's true resolve."

"resolve" good word but something Dave knows nothing about.

Jellies always - dissolve.

Anonymous said...

When I first read this, my initial thoughts (read anger) was the the EU should get out of our judicial processes - get out and stay out. Then I though no... hang on a minute; maybe we should stage manage the ensuing fight and encourage the boy Cameron and Farage to get involved. The Lee Rigby murder is still very raw in the minds of decent thinking Britons; and if we could draw the EU into this fight at an early stage, then our dislike of the EU could well be stoked up into visceral hatred and thus we achieve what we want - OUT.

Coney Island

strawbrick said...

Firstly, Anonymous is conflating the European Union - a political and economic entity - with the European Court of Human Rights - a legal frame work.
Secondly, once upon a time "life" meant that you stayed in prison until you died, now it can mean parole after approx 7 years, unless the Judge has specified a longer period. There is no guarantee that you will get parole. As far as I understand things, the ECHR has said that it is inhuman to sentence any-one to an indeterminate "life" sentence, so the remedy is either for the Judge to say no parole for 70 years of for "life" to be replaced by say 100 years.
In any event, we do need to sort out the whole manslaughter / murder / casing death by dangerous driving / true accidental killing.

rapscallion said...

Strawbrick is being a tad disingenuous methinks. You have to be a member of the ECHR to be a member of the EU. If you choose to leave the ECHR you MUST therefore leave the EU. The point that needs to be made here is that is should be the judges in THIS country that decide what sentence is appropriate and NOT those outside of it.

Besides, I remember being informed that as the death sentence was being removed, life would mean life. As usual, they lied.

Those who murdered Lee Rigby deserve the death sentence. Where there is 1% of doubt then a life sentence is the correct sentence.

English Pensioner said...

There's a lot to be said for consecutive sentences, not the concurrent sentences we have in most cases - do a dozen burglaries and get 5 years for each and still only do five years total rather than the 60 years.
If they used consecutive sentencing, they can give, say, 30 years for the murder plus 10 for carrying a knife, another 10 for threatening behaviour, etc.
You could soon work it up to 100 or more years as in the States.

Anonymous said...

The very essence of our justice system is that each case is judged on its merits.

For murder.

If guilt is established in a court of law there should be two options available to the judge: a life sentence with parole or, a life sentence without parole.

The former would be scaled to reflect the magnitude of the crime. The latter is where the crime is demonstrably at odds with our whole way of life.


Lee Rigby's executioners would therefore fall into the latter, and a life sentence without parole would see them die in prison.


Anonymous said...

Well said Steve and others, Rap and EP, Coney island.

john in cheshire said...

A civilised country would retain the death penalty precisely for murders such as that perpetrated by these entities. Anything less is not justice.

G. Tingey said...

john in Cheshire
What do you do WHEN you get it wrong?
10 Rillington Place to you too!

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, in the days when a life sentence was deemed to be 15 years, the average life span was much shorter than it is today, the term usually involved hard labour, and there was no automatic halving of the sentence as soon as you went through the gates, so anyone surviving a life sentence would not be deemed a continuing danger to the public. The improvement in prison conditions and the halving of the sentences means that the majority of murderers can leave prison as comparatively young people. Some may consider it surprising that our political masters have not addressed this, but as many of them are solicitors or barristers, why should they? The criminal element provides a good living to the legal profession while victims of crime are often considered acceptable casualties.

Autonomous Mind said...

I loathe UK membership of the EU, but I believe it is vital that sceptics remain honest and transparent when discussing EU matters so we can retain credibility for the day a referendum eventually comes.

On the subject of whole life tariffs, what the EU wants is for prisoners on a whole life tariff to have their sentence reviewed for appropriateness after a length of time.

It is not an attempt to block whole life tariffs, and in the interests of justice it is perfectly proper that such a serious sentence should be subject to review. What is depressing about this is that the UK did not previously conceive such a process off its own bat.

The outcome of reviews in such cases would most likely to be confirmation that the sentence remains appropriate and the murderer remains in prison until he/she dies. So no harm would be done to society.

There are many things to attack the EU about. But this isn't one of them, even though it underlines the absence of UK sovereignty.

Raedwald said...

AM - You need to read what I've written, rather than what you think I've written; I've said this is an attempt to block whole life *sentences* and this is perfectly correct; it's your opinion that this type of sentence should be subject to review and that's fine - I'm sure we all have our opinions on this. All equally valid.

Pat said...

Since the perpetrators openly stated -on camera- their intention to destroy the British way of life and replace it with something else (Islam as it happens) why was the charge not high treason?