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Minimum terms

High Court setting of minimum terms for mandatory life sentences under the Criminal Justice Act 2003

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Case No:  MTR/988/2004
Neutral Citation Number:  [2005] EWHC 1351 (QB)

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Wednesday 8th June 2005

Before :


Between :



Linda Calvey


(Transcript of the Handed Down Judgment of
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As Approved by the Court

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1. On 12 November 1991 at the Central Criminal Court, after a trial before Mr Justice Hidden and a jury, Linda Calvey and Daniel Reece were convicted of murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment.  They were subsequently notified by the Home Secretary that the minimum period which should be served by each before their release on licence was 15 years.  Linda Calvey has now applied under paragraph 3 of schedule 22 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 for the court to determine her minimum term.  These are the reasons for my decision on that application.

2. The circumstances of the offence, as set out in the trial judge’s report to the Home Secretary, were as follows.

  "A contract killing by shotgun in East London of a prisoner then serving a long sentence in Maidstone Prison, but unofficially ‘out’ for the day.  The killer was Reece, also a serving prisoner, but out of prison on weekend leave.  Linda Calvey was the deceased’s long term lover and also a friend (platonic) of Reece.  She had picked Reece up from prison at Portland on a Friday, and picked the deceased up from Maidstone Prison on the Monday morning.  She took him back to her house in London E.16, where, a minute after arrival, he was shot dead by Reece, who then made off ….
  Linda Calvey was clearly from the evidence a woman who had lived with and around armed robbers for most of her adult life, and had served a sentence for robbery herself.  She regularly visited her lover, the deceased, in prison:  he was approaching the end of his sentence and was shortly due for release.  The prosecution case was that she had arranged for another prisoner friend, Reece, to kill her lover.
  Daniel Reece was serving a very long sentence for a number of serious offences (13½ years).  The facts behind the conviction showed that he was a dangerous man ….  The killing was a totally cold-blooded affair …."

3. Although the judge described it as a contract killing, the Lord Chief Justice subsequently commented that it was not clear why Calvey wished the victim to be killed or what the inducement was for Reece to kill him.  That remains unclear, despite a very helpful summary of the case which has been produced by Calvey’s solicitors as part of their submissions on her behalf (see below).

4. The issues at trial included the identity of the killer, joint enterprise and intention.  The jury must have decided all those issues against both defendants.  Calvey continues to claim her innocence but accepts that the court must proceed on the basis of the jury’s verdict. 

5. In determining the minimum period to be served by the applicant, I have directed myself by reference to the provisions of schedule 22 to the 2003 Act, in particular paragraphs 2-4.  In assessing the seriousness of the offence I am required to have regard to the general principles set out in schedule 21 and to the recommendations made to the Secretary of State by the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice as to the minimum term to be served. 

6. I have taken into account the Home Office’s file, including the report of the trial judge and previous representations made on the applicant’s behalf.  I have also considered the detailed submissions made on the applicant’s behalf in her solicitor’s letters dated 19 April 2004 and 10 November 2004, together with the enclosures to those letters.  In addition I have considered the applicant’s own letter dated 17 November 2004.  There has been no request for an oral hearing in this matter (see R (Hammond) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] EWHC 2753 (Admin)) and in my judgment there is nothing in the circumstances of the case to justify a hearing. 
7. The trial judge recommended a minimum period of 7-8 years.  The Lord Chief Justice commented on the lack of clarity about the applicant’s motivation and Reece’s inducement, but continued:

  “If this was simply a cold blooded killing for money or money’s worth, as appears likely, then I would suggest that 15 years would be a proper minimum in each case.  There is, however, a shortage of detail, and my assessment is accordingly provisional.”

8. The Secretary of State notified a tariff of 15 years in line with that provisional recommendation.

9. The contrast between the recommendation of the trial judge (who, it is said, had heard all the evidence at trial and was best placed to make an assessment) and the tariff of 15 years notified by the Secretary of State lies at the heart of the submission on the applicant’s behalf. 

10. In terms of schedule 21, this offence is one to which the 30 year starting point (paragraph 5 of the schedule) would apply, since it was a murder involving the use of a firearm.  The fact that it was a contract killing would be a further reason for adopting that starting point, even though the nature of the inducement is not known.  The applicant’s criminal record, which included a 5 year custodial sentence for a robbery offence, was an aggravating factor but would not justify any increase over the 30 year starting point.

11. The trial judge evidently considered that the applicant’s culpability was much lower than that of Reece, even though she had only limited personal mitigation.  Making all due allowance for that view, however, it seems to me that the general principles in schedule 21 would lead to a minimum term substantially in excess of 15 years.  This is very different from the recommendation of the trial judge, and even in excess of the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice, but it seems to me to be the inevitable result of applying the approach that the court is required to apply in its review of minimum terms under schedule 22.

12. However, paragraph 3(1)(a) of schedule 22 requires that the minimum term specified by me must not be greater than the minimum term notified by the Secretary of State.  It follows that I must come down to the notified minimum term of 15 years.

13. One further consideration is the time that the applicant spent in custody on remand prior to sentence.  I am required to take that into account by virtue of paragraph 4(1)(b) of schedule 22.  In my view there is no reason why it should not count towards the minimum period to be served.  In order to produce that result, it is necessary to deduct it from the otherwise appropriate minimum term.
14. Accordingly, the specified period is one of 15 years less the 11 months 5 days spent in custody on remand.






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