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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: [2007] EWHC 129 (QB)

Case No: 2004/517/MTS

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 30/01/2007

Before :

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Between :



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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.



The Honourable Mr Justice Treacy :
1. This Defendant is Stephen Omianzo Patrick.  His date of birth is 29 August 1965.  He was convicted of murder by a Jury at the Central Criminal Court on 12 September 2002.  His Honour Judge Focke QC sentenced him to Life Imprisonment.  The Judge subsequently recommended that the minimum term to be served before Patrick could be considered for release by the Parole Board was 13 years.
2. The offence was committed in the small hours of 29 January 2002.  The victim was Millicent Patrick, the Defendant’s wife.  The Defendant had come to this country as an asylum seeker in May 2001.  His wife and their three children remained in Jamaica.  On the 26 January 2002 she arrived in Britain to visit the Defendant.  Initially she stayed with her sister and the Defendant travelled from London to Westcliff-on-Sea to see her.  He arrived at Westcliff-on-Sea at 10pm on 28 January 2002. 
3. Shortly afterwards he and the deceased retired to bed.  At about 2am on 29 January the victim’s sister heard screaming.  She ran to the bedroom.  She saw the deceased covered in blood on the bed and the Defendant pulling a black handled knife from her body.  The emergency services were called but the deceased was dead.  The Defendant was arrested shortly afterwards.  Post mortem examination showed that the deceased had been stabbed about 20 times.  The attack was a frenzied one.  The weapon was a large kitchen knife which the Defendant had brought from his home in London.  It appears that the Defendant attacked his wife after a dispute over sexual matters.
4. I have read the Trial Judge’s report; the mitigation; the Judge’s Sentencing Remarks; a psychiatric report prepared by Dr Richard Taylor, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and dated 22 July 2002; a transcript of the Judgment of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) refusing a renewed application for Leave to Appeal Against Conviction.  Despite invitation, the Defendant has made no submissions to me.  The victim’s family has declined, after invitation, to make a statement for the purpose of these proceedings. 
5. The antecedents show no convictions recorded against the Defendant.  At trial the Defendant acknowledged that he was guilty of manslaughter.  He raised the issue of provocation but that was rejected by the Jury’s verdict. 
6. The Defendant had no history of mental health problems but had presented as clinically depressed during the period between arrest and trial.  The aggravating feature of this offence is that the Defendant had brought a knife with him from London to Westcliff-on-Sea.  That knife was then used in the attack upon the victim.  The Defendant later told the psychiatrist that he habitually carried such a weapon. 
7. As to mitigation, it was acknowledged by the Defendant immediately after the killing that he had killed his wife.  He asked for the Police to be called.  There was some evidence of remorse shown.
8. Since this offence was committed prior to the 18 December 2003 the transitional provisions incorporated into the Criminal Justice Act 2003 apply.  Those transitional provisions are to be found in Schedule 22 to the Act.  The practical effect of those provisions is explained in the decision of Sullivan and Ors [2004] EWCA (Crim) 1762.  The correct approach is to have regard to the letter sent to judges by Lord Bingham CJ on the 10 February 1997.  That letter indicates a starting point of 14 years for the minimum term to be served, subject to the explanation at Paragraphs 29 to 34 of the decision in Sullivan. 
9. The Trial Judge’s view appears to have been that the murder took place after a dispute over sexual matters.  This tends to rebut the suggestion that this was a premeditated killing, notwithstanding the taking of the murder weapon from the Defendant’s home when he set out to meet his wife. 
10. I have had regard to the Trial Judge’s recommendation.  It appears from the papers that the Trial Judge’s view was shared by Lord Woolf CJ.  I have come to the conclusion that their assessments are correct and that a minimum term of 13 years is appropriate in this case.  Against that figure an allowance of 7 months and 13 days must be made for time spent in custody on remand.  This does not in fact represent any practical difference to the Trial Judge’s recommendation since credit would have been given administratively under the previous practice.
11. The minimum term is set at 13 years less 7 months and 13 days.

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