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Tuesday, 05 June 2007


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Without knowing the details of the case -- and, in particular, why it was manslaughter and not murder -- it's impossible to say. It would, for example, be manslaughter if he'd punched his friend on the nose, without any intention of doing him serious injury, and his friend had then staggered backwards, tripped over something and staved in his head on a rock on the ground.

Off the top of my head, a determinate sentence of 7 years (i.e. eligible for release on licence three-and-a-half years) is pretty standard for manslaughter by reason of provocation (which is quite a difficult defence to bring off, I'm told).

Because of his record, he's rightly been given an indefinite sentence for public protection rather than a determinate sentence. When a judge awards an IPP he must, under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, make a recommendation about the minimum time the prisoner must serve before he may apply for release on licence. This the judge must calculate by deciding the determinate sentence he would have been minded to impose were he not imposing an IPP and calculating the parole date from that.

There's no particular reason to suppose the chap will be released after 3 and a half years; the sentence would better expressed in American terms, 'three-and-a-half years to life'.

If it's any consolation, judges don't much like this part of the CJA 2003, either. However, Parliament decided it knew more about sentencing than did the judges and passed the relevant sections of the CJA to tell them exactly how to do this aspect of their job.

I appreciate the trouble you took to comment expertly on this matter, 'NS', and I admit that neither of us knows the details of the case. However, you can understand my bewilderment that some one who batters their 'best friend' to death is only charged with manslaughter and then only receives a six year sentence. I am also, if you will allow me to climb on board my bandwagon, deeply in sympathy with Mr. Singh's family who have had a relative slaughtered because the murderer was not strung up, or at least kept in jail for life, in the first place! I do not share your confidence that this killer will not be out in time get his hat-trick!

Again, I cannot stress enough that the state has a duty to protect its people, a duty that is manifestly ignored by parliament and the judiciary. It isn't just the Home Office that is "unfit for purpose".

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