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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 1926 (QB)

Case No: 2004/584/MTS
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 27th July 2006

Before :

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE ROYCE
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Between :

                                    Regina 
                                      - v - 
 Richard Lloyd Francis 

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Mr Justice Royce :
 
1. The Defendant was born on 7th February 1980.  He was convicted of murder on 26th July 2002 at the Central Criminal Court.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment. 
2. The Defendant was in a bar in the evening of 31st December 2001 and the morning of 1st January 2002.  His co-defendant, who was convicted of manslaughter, was involved in an incident elsewhere that resulted in him receiving minor stab wounds.  He came and told the Defendant of this and the two of them then emerged from the bar intent on revenge.  As they did so, the deceased, Bernard Tighe, and a companion also emerged, brushing against the Defendant.
3. The Defendant was concerned as he was not wearing his neck brace that he had been advised by his doctor to wear.  He and his co-defendant then set upon the deceased.  The Defendant was armed with a large dagger.  He stabbed the Deceased five times to the front and back with such force that he penetrated through bone and the heart.  The Defendant also used the dagger to stab another man in the chest and was convicted of wounding him with intent. 
4. The Defendant has a bad record including 14 convictions for robbery, and a conviction for possession of an article with a blade in a public place.  His Honour Judge Hawkins QC under the then current guidance took a starting point of 12 years but increased that to 14 taking into account the nature of the weapon, the severity of the blows and the fact that there were two stabbings committed by him at the same time on the victims unknown to him.  Lord Woolf Chief Justice also recommended a minimum term of 14 years.
5. I am required in considering the seriousness of the offence to have regard to the matters set out in schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.  This in my judgement would have been a case which would have attracted a starting point under that schedule of 15 years.
6. I have to bear in mind that I am not entitled to set a minimum term higher than that which under the practice followed by the Secretary of State before December 2002 is likely to have determined.  In my judgement it is likely that he would have adopted the recommendation of the trial Judge and of the Lord Chief Justice and would have set a term of 14 years.
7. No representations have been received from the Defendant, neither have any been received from the deceased’s relatives.
8. My conclusion is that the minimum term in this case should be set at 14 years.  The time spent in custody namely 18 months and 21 days has to be deducted from that term.
9. It is important that the public understands the setting of the minimum term does not mean that the Defendant will be released once that term is served.  It merely means that his case will not be considered by the Parole Board before that time.  It is if, and only if, the Parole Board concludes that it is safe for him to be released that he will be.  

 


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