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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 1867 (QB)

Case No: 2004/6/MTS
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 21/07/2006

Before :

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Between :



Frank Moe





Approved Judgment





 1.Frank Moe was convicted at the Crown Court in Birmingham on 30 November 2000 of the murder of Rosella Middleton and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial judge Mrs Justice Smith (as she then was) recommended that he should serve eighteen years before he was considered for release and this recommendation was followed by Lord Woolf CJ.
2. I now have to fix the minimum term pursuant to the provisions of Schedule 22 paragraph 3 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. I have received submissions on behalf of  Moe  as well as a witness statement from the son of the deceased. I will take all the points made by them into consideration. The defendant has not requested an oral hearing and I do not consider one to be appropriate.
3. Rosella Middleton was an eighty-three year old widow, who was killed by Moe  in her own home. The judge considered that the deceased had seen   Moe on the buses and in the area of her home. On the day when Mrs Middleton was murdered, Moe either lay in wait for her near her flat or followed her home. He must have forced his way into the flat and then attacked her. Moe pulled her clothes partly off and he probably tried to have sexual intercourse. She bled from the vagina before death and he ejaculated on her clothing. According to the trial Judge, probably in an attempt to subdue Mrs Middleton, Moe struck her at least four blows to her face and head causing fractures to the cheekbone and nose. There were also other injuries to the neck and ribs probably caused by manual blows so that Mrs Middleton must have lost consciousness. The facial injuries bled and Mrs Middleton chocked on her own blood.
4. Moe left but left behind a scarf. Although the attack took place in March 1994, the applicant was not apprehended until 1998 when improved DNA techniques were applied to the semen found on Mrs Middleton’s clothing and to hairs found on his scarf and her underwear. This led to his arrest and conviction.
5. The trial judge wrote in her report to the Home Secretary:
 “This man’s antecedents are relevant to tariff, as they will no doubt be when the issue of dangerousness is considered.
In 1975/6, Moe was found unfit to plead to a series of charges including one of murder, 4 of robbery and 6 of wounding with intent. In respect of the murder, it was alleged that he had beaten the victim about the face and head. He was detained in a secure hospital until about 1991. I mention this as part of the history although he was not convicted of any offence. In those days, the hospital order was made without any determination as the whether the defendant had committed the acts complained of. I do not take it into account in assessing tariff.

In March 1994, about 6 weeks before he killed his present victim, Moe killed an elderly vagrant, by beating him about the face and head. There was also a sexual assault. The cause of death was the same as in the present case, inhalation of blood. In due course, Moe was arrested for that killing and was convicted of manslaughter by reason of lack of intent. He was sentenced to Life Imprisonment with a minimum period of 10 years. I take that offence into account in assessing tariff.

I recommend a tariff of 18 years. The age of the victim and the accompanying sexual attack are aggravating features as is the conviction for a similar offence committed only 6 weeks earlier.
The only mitigating factors are the defendant’s disabilities”.   
6. By letter dated 27 April 2005, Millichips, who are Moe’s solicitors, drew attention to matters which they considered were relevant to setting a minimum term. These included the facts that Moe was profoundly deaf and that he has an extremely low IQ with a very poor standard of sign language. It was also said that there is no-one with whom   he can communicate and that he wished to be transferred to a prison closer to the West Midlands. It was said   that because of his communication problems, Moe is virtually being held in solitary confinement and that this is a factor, which should be taken into consideration

7.. Mr Brian Middleton the son of the deceased  in a witness statement described the horrific and traumatic way he went to the home of his mother and found her severely beaten. He points out that his mother could not have lost her life in a more degrading way and that this fact has had very serious and traumatic effects on various members of his family. Mr. Middleton stresses the brutal way in which his mother was murdered
8. In my view the starting point for fixing the minimum term should be one of fifteen years but there are serious aggravating circumstances because the victim in this case was eighty-four years old and was a vulnerable old lady. There must have been a degree of premeditation on Moe‘s part. A further aggravating factor was the sexual assault committed by Moe on Mrs Middleton before she was murdered. In my view the appropriate minimum period would be one of eighteen years.
9 The applicant is not entitled to credit for any time spent in custody on remand before he was sentences because he was then serving a life sentence for manslaughter which he committed in March 1994 for which he was convicted and sentenced in 1996. Of course the Parole Board will have to bear in mind the previous convictions of the applicant for murder in 1976 and the comments of Mrs Justice Smith (as she then was) when she passed sentence because she said that in her opinion it was very unlikely that it would ever be safe for the public for Moe to be released into the community again.      


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