Cymraeg | Access Keys | Site Map | Feedback
Legal / Professional
Advanced search

Minimum terms

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

<< Back



Neutral Citation Number: [2006] EWHC 2046 (QB)

Case No: 2006/14/MTR

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 04/08/2006

Before :


 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -





The Honourable Mr Justice Owen :
1. On 30 April 1997 Sebastian John Hudson appeared at the Central Criminal Court where he pleaded guilty to the murder of Glenmore Cascoe on 27 August 1996.  On 22 May 1997 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.  The applicant was 23 years of age at the date of the offence, 24 when sentenced.
2. The applicant and the deceased were formerly close friends.  Some years before the offence, the applicant had a short relationship with a young woman with whom the deceased subsequently became involved in a long term relationship.  In mid summer 1996 there was a chance encounter between the applicant and the young woman in question at South Norwood railway station.  There was a short conversation in the course of which the applicant lightly touched her breast outside her clothing.  He immediately apologised and said that it was an accidental touching as he gesticulated with his hands.  She however believed it to have been a lewd indecent assault.  The incident was reported to the deceased by the young woman, and a short time thereafter the deceased attacked the applicant with a baseball bat, inflicting a serious head wound that required hospital treatment.  He also threatened further violence.  Eight days later the applicant, his brother, Pavell, and a third and unidentified man came across the deceased by chance at Gypsy Hill railway station.  The deceased ran and was chased by the three men.  Both the applicant and the deceased were carrying knives.  When the three men caught the deceased, the applicant stabbed him to death.
3. In his report to the Home Secretary the trial judge made the following observation:
“The defendant totally lost control and failed to heed his brother telling him to leave.  Nevertheless he pleaded guilty from the outset and showed genuine remorse.  He has a bad record of violence in one so young, but this apart, he does not, in my view, present an exceptional or unusual degree of dangerousness.  He is still young and seems to have acted spontaneously.  He recommended a tariff period of 13 years.” 
4. The Lord Chief Justice said that in view of the guilty plea and of the circumstances described by the Judge, he would recommend a term of 11 – 12 years.
5. On 30 September 1997 the applicant was notified in writing by the Secretary of State that the tariff period would be set at 11 years.
6. Written representations have been made on behalf of the applicant.  His legal representatives have also applied for an oral hearing, relying on the decision of the Divisional Court in R (Hammond) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] EWHC 2753 (Admin).  I have carefully considered the issues involved in the case and the reasons advanced for seeking an oral hearing, but have come to the conclusion that the issues are not of such complexity as to require such a hearing.  That application is rejected.  
7. As to the written representations, it is submitted by reference to the practice direction issued by Lord Bingham of Cornhill on 10 February 2097??  that the only aggravating feature was the use of a dangerous weapon, but that there were a number of mitigating factors namely the absence of an intention to kill, the spontaneity of the attack and lack of premeditation, and the applicant’s plea of guilty and his deep and genuine remorse.
8. Reliance is also placed upon his progress whilst in prison and in particular his successful completion of a number of offending behaviour courses.  That submission is borne out by the prison reports that accompany the written representations. 
9. The family of the deceased have indicated that they do not wish to make a Victim’s Family Statement.
10. This is an application under section 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.  I have to decide whether I should order that the early release provisions under the 2003 Act should apply to the applicant after a shorter period than the minimum term of 11 years fixed by the Secretary of State.  It is not open to me under the Act to order that they should apply after a longer period.
11. In considering the application I must have regard to the seriousness of the offence of murder that the applicant committed, and in so doing, I must have regard to the general principles set out in schedule 21 of the Act and also to the recommendation made to the Secretary of State by the trial Judge and by the Lord Chief Justice as to the minimum term to be served by the applicant before release on licence. 
12. I am also to have regard to the effect that section 67 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 would have had if the applicant had been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, provided I am satisfied that, if he had been so sentenced, the length of his sentence would have been treated as reduced by a particular period under that section: therefore the Court takes account of any period that a person has spent in custody only because he was committed to custody by an order of the court made in connection with proceedings related to the murder.  I am satisfied that here I should have regard to the period spent in custody on remand of 7 months 4 days (216 days).
13. The applicant’s legal advisers have correctly identified the sole aggravating feature, namely the use of a weapon.  I take account of the mitigating factors, in particular the deep and genuine remorse shown by the applicant for the murder of the man who had been his close friend.  I have come to the conclusion that in all the circumstances of the case the period fixed by the Secretary of State of 11 years is the appropriate minimum term.  But I also consider that it is appropriate to give the applicant credit for the plea of guilty that was indicated at the earliest opportunity.  The maximum discount for a plea of guilty to murder is one sixth.  The appropriate discount is therefore 1.8 years (1 year 292 days) giving a term of 9 years 73 days.  The period of 7 months 4 days spent on remand must then be brought into account giving a minimum term of 8 years 222 days. 
14. The minimum term is the minimum amount of time that the applicant will spend in prison from the date of sentence before the parole board can order early release.  If it remains necessary for the protection of the public, the applicant will continue to be detained after that date.  When the applicant has served the minimum term, and if the parole board decides to direct his release, he will remain on licence for the rest of his life and may be recalled to prison at any time if in breach of the terms of his parole.

^ Top
This page was last updated on 24 November 2006 11:58. Web team.
Contact us . Terms and conditions .