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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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Neutral Citation Number: [2006] EWHC 358 (QB)

Case No: 2005/56/MTR
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 16/03/2006

Before :

MR JUSTICE MITTING
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Between :

 REGINA Claimant
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 RONALD WILLIAM BARTON Defendant

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Approved Judgment
I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.


.............................

MR JUSTICE MITTING


 
Mr Justice Mitting :
 
1. The defendant was convicted on 30th October 1986 of the abduction and murder of his 14 year old step daughter Keighley Barton on or after 10th August 1985. He was 45 at the date of the offence and 46 at the date of trial. The trial judge Turner J, recommended a tariff of 25 years. The Lord Chief Justice recommended a whole life tariff. The Secretary of State accepted the Lord Chief Justice’s recommendation. The tariff was re-set by the Secretary of State, who notified a tariff of 25 years by letter dated 5th December 1997.
2. The defendant had been convicted on 7 previous occasions of sexual offences against young women and girls. On the last occasion, on 12th December 1980, he was convicted of 2 offences of gross indecency with Keighley Barton. The trial judge described him as a depraved and evil man. He abducted her on 10th August 1985 and killed her soon afterwards. Her body was not found until he revealed it after his conviction. The trial judge described his motives as, probably, two fold: to prevent her from giving evidence against him, about her allegations of sexual abuse against her, and to get at his wife because of the hatred he felt for her. The abduction and murder were described as carefully planned and executed.
3. This is a case in which the general principles set out in schedule 21, to which I am required to have regard by paragraph 4 (2)(a) of Schedule 22 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 would require me to take as a starting point a whole life order. This case fell squarely within paragraph 4 (2)(b). Not withstanding the recommendation of the trial judge, to which I have regard under paragraph 4 (2)(b) of Schedule 22, I can see no good reason to depart from the starting point.
4. This is a case to which the prohibition of setting a minimum term greater than the tariff notified to the defendant by the Secretary of State in paragraph 3 (1)(a) of Schedule 22 is relevant. Because the term ultimately notified was 25 years, I cannot set a minimum term greater than that. Under paragraph 4(1)(b) of Schedule 22, the whole period spent on remand – 14 months and 9 days – should be deducted for the purpose of setting the minimum term.
5. For the reasons given, I direct that the provisions of Section 28 (5) – (8) of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 are to apply to the defendant as soon as he has served 23 years 9 months and 21 days after the date upon which he was sentenced.


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