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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: 2004/57/MTS
 Neutral Citation Number: [2006] EWHC 517 (QB)
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

17th March 2006

Before :

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(Transcript of the Handed Down Judgment of
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited, 190 Fleet Street
London EC4A 2AG
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As Approved by the Court

Crown copyright©

Mr Justice Pitchers:
1. On 17 July 2000, the Defendant, then aged 22 years, was convicted of murder at the Central Criminal Court before His Honour Judge Hawkins QC who sentenced him to life imprisonment.
2. After passing the sentence referred to above, but before the commencement of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the trial judge made a report  to the Home Secretary, in accordance with the practice then in operation, recommending the proper length of term that ought to be served for the purposes of retribution and general deterrence. He stated his view that the proper length of detention for these purposes was 11 years.  The Lord Chief Justice recommended 13 years.
3. The Act came into force on 18 December 2003. By then, the Home Secretary had not notified the Defendant either of the minimum period which he thought he should serve before his release on licence or that he did not intend that he should ever be released on licence.   Accordingly, the Home Secretary referred his case to the High Court under para. 6 of Schedule 22 to the Act for the making of an order under sections 269(2) or 269(4) of the Act.
4. On 19 January 2000, the Defendant heard that a cousin’s friend, Jason aged 14 or 15 years, had been robbed earlier in the day of a mobile phone and money in the vicinity of McDonalds, Camberwell. The Defendant rang a number said to have been left by the robbers. He was connected to an answer phone of someone who had nothing to do with the matter. The Defendant told those responsible to meet him at McDonalds and, if the money was not paid over, the person responsible would be stabbed. The Defendant on the call indicated that he knew they might have weapons. The Defendant went to McDonalds with a knife. In McDonalds, there was a group of three men. The Defendant accused one of being responsible for the robbery. The Defendant produced his knife. One of the three men struck out with a metal pole. The group of three were joined by the deceased, Andre Drummond  who was aged 17. The Defendant went outside. There was a confrontation between the Defendant and the deceased. The deceased produced an imitation gun and the Defendant stabbed the deceased in the neck and as a result he died.
5. The aggravating factors in the case were that the Defendant went out armed looking for trouble.  The mitigating factors were that there had been some violence towards the Defendant (not from the deceased) and that the Defendant had no intention to kill.
6. I have read and considered representations on behalf of the Defendant.  I have also read and considered very moving letters from Ms Donna Newman, mother of Andre Drummond, and Ramon Drummond, his brother.
7. Were the minimum term to be set in accordance with Schedule 21 of the Act, the starting point would have been 15 years as a minimum term.  The actual term would probably have been in the same figure.  However, the term specified now must not be longer than would have been specified at the time of the offence.  I therefore specify a minimum term of 13 years.  I must also give credit for the time served on remand prior to sentence:  5 months 22 days.  Accordingly, I order that the the early release provisions in sections 28(5) to (8) of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 apply to this Defendant as soon as he has served 12 years 6 months 8 days.

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