Cymraeg | Access Keys | Site Map | Feedback
Legal / Professional
 
Advanced search

Minimum terms

High Court setting of minimum terms for mandatory life sentences under the Criminal Justice Act 2003



<< Back

 

                                       

Neutral Citation Number:[2007] EWHC 516 (QB)

Case No: 2004 /543 / MTS
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION


PRESTON COMBINED COURT CENTRE


Date: 13th March 2007


Before:

THE HON MR JUSTICE ANDREW SMITH
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Between:

 Regina  
 - and - 
 SHAIED IQBAL 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
APPROVED JUDGMENT

  
1. This case is referred to the court under schedule 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 for an order to be made under section 269 of the Act in relation to mandatory life sentences passed upon Shaied Iqbal for the murders of eight members of one family.  I have considered written representations submitted on behalf of Mr Iqbal and dated 10 August 2005. 

2. I have also considered a letter from Mr Muhammad Shafique, which makes representations for the whole of the victims’ family.    For reasons that he sets out, it is their view that “this individual, truly evil in the full sense of the word, should never be allowed to leave prison”.

3. Mr Iqbal is an “existing prisoner” within the meaning of schedule 22.    On 25 July 2003 he was found guilty of the eight murders, and also of conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life, and on 30 July 2003 I sentenced him to life imprisonment for the offences of murder (and also to a term of 14 years imprisonment for the conspiracy to commit arson and a concurrent term of two years for an offence of conspiracy to commit criminal damage to motor vehicles, to which he had pleaded guilty).  After passing the sentences of life imprisonment, I wrote a report to the Home Secretary in which I recommended that Shaied Iqbal serve a minimum period of 22 years before being considered for release on licence.     However, because of changes introduced by the Criminal Justice Act, 2003 the Lord Chief Justice did not comment upon my recommendation and Mr Iqbal has never been notified by the Home Secretary either that he does not intend that Mr Iqbal should ever be released on licence or of a minimum period which in the view of the Secretary of State should be served before his release on licence. Accordingly, the Secretary of State has referred this case to the High Court under paragraph 6 of Schedule 22.

4. In making an order in these circumstances, it is first necessary to consider the seriousness of these offences and other associated offences.    This involves considering not only Shaied Iqbal’s culpability in committing the offences and what harm he intended to cause and might foreseeably have been caused, but also what harm it did in fact cause: section 143 of the 2003 Act.  I must have regard both to the principles set out in schedule 21 of the statute and also to the recommendation that I made to the Home Secretary.   Further, my decision must comply with the transitional provisions in schedule 22 to the Act, which ensure that the statute respects the principle in article 7.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) that no “heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed”.

5. Mr Iqbal was born on 17 December 1976 and was therefore aged 25 when he committed these offences on 12 May 2002.   He was one of three men charged with the eight murders and associated offences.    Shaied Iqbal alone was convicted of murder.    The other two defendants who faced the murder charges, Nazar Hussein and Shakiel Amir Shazad, were convicted of manslaughter on all eight counts and I sentenced them to concurrent terms of eighteen years imprisonment.   They were also convicted of conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life for which I gave them concurrent sentences.   Another man who, as the prosecution allege and as it appeared from the evidence, was involved in the arson attack, Shahid Mohammed, escaped arrest and has not faced trial.  

6. In my report to the Home Secretary I set out this description of the offences:
“At about 2.00 am on12 May 2002, arson destroyed a house at 40 Osborne Road, Huddersfield.  It was started when at least four “firebombs” (milk bottles filled with petrol) were thrown at the house or into it through a broken window, and at least two litres of petrol, which had been poured through the letter-box from a petrol canister, were ignited in the hall.  The fire took hold fiercely, and soon it prevented anyone from escaping down the stairs. 

Eleven members of a family were asleep in the house, and eight of them died in or as a result of the fire.  The head of the household, Abdul Aziz Chisti, was sleeping downstairs.  His daughter, Siddiqah Aziz, was woken by a scream and came downstairs in time to lead him from the house, but she was unable to save anyone else, despite brave efforts to do so.  Nafeesa Aziz, her elder sister, was trapped upstairs in the rear bedroom with her five daughters, whose ages ranged from thirteen years to six months.  The mother and daughters all died. Muhammed Ateeq-UR-Rehman, Mr. Chisti’s youngest son, an 18-year old student, also died in a small bedroom at the front of the house. In the third bedroom were Mohammed Shaffiq, Mr. Chisti’s eldest son, and Zain-UN-Nisa, Mr. Chisti’s wife.  They leapt from the window to escape.  Mohammed Shaffiq survived, although he sustained burns from which he had not fully recovered by the time of the trial over a year later.  His mother died a week after the fire from injuries suffered in her fall.

Shaied Iqbal was one of four men who had set fire to the house, the others being Nazar Hussein, Shakiel Amir Shazad and Shahid Mohammed.   Shaied Iqbal was found guilty of a conspiracy to commit arson of the house with intent to endanger life and of murdering the eight victims.  There were at least six men engaged in a conspiracy of some sort.  They met in the evening of 11 May 2003 in a garage workshop where they made the fire bombs, and drove to the area of Osborne Road. Then the four men went on foot to Osborne Road and attacked the house.  The prosecution’s case was that the plan was originally to attack a car or cars of the Chisti Family, but it developed into a plot between the four of them to attack the house with deadly intent.  Whatever the agreement between the conspirators, I consider that Shaied Iqbal’s own intention throughout was to attack the house, and he prosecuted that intention.   To this end, as I find on the basis of the evidence at trial,
(i)   Shaied Iqbal arranged for Nazar Hussein to provide some 5 litres of petrol in a can.  The can had a funnel and was used to pour some of the petrol through the letter box of the house.
 (ii)   Shaied Iqbal himself took part in making the firebombs.
(iii) Before the conspirators left the garage, he went to Osborne Road to see whether the lights in the house were out and the family had retired for the night.
(iv) He, alone or with Shahid Mohammed, organised who was to play what part in the attack. 
(v) He was one of those who went to attack the house, and himself threw at least one of the fire bombs.

Shaied Iqbal alone was convicted of murder in respect of the deaths.  Nazar Hussein and Shakiel Amir Shazad were convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life.  Shahid Mohammed, who was deeply involved in the conspiracy, has escaped arrest and not faced trial.  The verdicts reflect the fact that Nazar Hussein and Shakiel Amir Shazad, though guilty of dreadful crimes, are less culpable than Shaied Iqbal.  Shahid Mohammed might well be no less culpable. 

In my judgment, the motive for the attack has not been established, although the prosecution presented evidence of two possible reasons for hostility towards one of the victims, Ateeq: (i) that Ateeq was believed to be responsible for the father of Shaied Iqbal’s girlfriend learning of their relationship; and (ii) that Ateeq was thought to have facilitated a marriage between the sister of Shahid Mohammed and  a fellow-student at his  college, and Shahid Mohammed’s family disapproved of the marriage.  (In December 2001 Shaied Iqbal, and others, had brought the sister back to her family from Newcastle, where she had moved with her husband.  In doing so, he committed an offence of affray, to which he had pleaded guilty and for which he had been sentenced to 21 months imprisonment on 2 June 2003.)  Whatever the real motive for arson, I am satisfied that Shaied Iqbal, either alone or with Shahid Mohammed, devised the plan to exact vengeance from Ateeq, and that it was his considered decision, not an impulsive one, to do so.” 
 
7. I also concluded in my report that Shaied Iqbal was found guilty of murder on the basis that he intended to kill.  This was how the prosecution had unequivocally put their case to the jury and the nature of the attack that was ultimately carried out was such that I cannot see any realistic possibility that the intention was to do serious injury but not to kill – either there was no intention either to kill or to do serious injury (and in the case of Nazar Hussein and Shakiel Amir Shazad the jury must have decided that this might have been the case) or there was an intention to kill.    However, in my judgment the statutory provisions bring into sharp focus the question when Shaied Iqbal formed that intention, and I have re-examined the evidence with this specifically in mind.    

8. It is convenient first to leave aside my recommendation to the Home Secretary as to the minimum term and what view the Home Secretary would have been likely to have taken before December 2002, and to consider whether in view of the seriousness of the offences and associated offences and having regard to the principles set out in schedule 21 of the 2003 Act there should be an order that the early release provisions are not to apply to Mr Iqbal (a “whole life order”) and if not, what should be the minimum period before he can be considered for release on licence. 

9. Paragraph 4 of schedule 21 provides that the appropriate starting point is a whole life order in the case of an offender aged 21 or over when he committed the offence if the seriousness of the offence and offences associated with it is “exceptionally high”; and that cases normally to be so categorised include cases of the murder of more than one person where each murder involves “a substantial degree of premeditation or planning”.  I interpret this as referring to premeditation or planning of the murders themselves, and not of other offences that later led the offender to commit murder.   

10. Shaied Iqbal’s offending included the murder of eight people.  They were all murdered on the same occasion and indeed through the same criminal act, but this does not, in my judgment, take the case outside this general principle in paragraph 4.   The question therefore is whether the killings involved “a substantial degree of premeditation or planning”.  

11. For the reasons that I explained in my report, there is clear evidence that there was a plan to commit arson and that Shaied Iqbal was party to it.    I also concluded that Shaied Iqbal had formed the intention to attack the house before the four men went to it and when the preparations were being made in the garage workshop.  In representations made on his behalf, it is submitted that there is no proper basis for that conclusion.  However, it was Mr Iqbal’s case at trial and his evidence that the plan was that the four men should attack the house as well as the cars outside it, and he was party to that plan and joint enterprise, albeit his own role was, on his account, to damage the cars.  Given the nature of the “firebombs” and other evidence of Shaied Iqbal playing a leading role in manufacturing them, I should in any case and apart from his own evidence have been driven to conclude that Shaied Iqbal played his part in making the firebombs with the intention that they should be used to attack the house.    It is nothing to the point that this might equally apply to others as well as Shaied Iqbal.   In any event, given Shaied Iqbal’s case at trial and his own evidence in support of it, I remain of the view, expressed in my report, that his intention was to attack the house.  

12. However, it is important to recognise that an intention to attack the house does not necessarily involve an intention to kill, and a plan to attack the house does not necessarily involve a plan to kill anyone inside the house or mean that the killings involved a significant degree of planning or premeditation.    The statutory provisions require this distinction to be observed, and in my judgment it is not a fanciful one on the facts of this case.   In support of their case that the attack was carried by Shaied Iqbal (and others) with the intention to kill, the prosecution relied upon the way in which the inflammatory material was actually deployed against the house.   There was little reliable evidence about what part each of the four men played in the attack, but in the cases of Nazar Hussein and Shakiel Amir Shazad, the jury concluded that they were satisfied that they attacked the house intending to endanger the life of those in the house but not that they did so to kill (or seriously to injure) those inside.    It follows from these verdicts that the jury were not satisfied that there was an understanding between the four men to attack the house with the intention of killing those inside.   

^Top

13. There were two seats of fire in the house: fire in the front room caused by firebombs, and fire in the hall caused by an accelerant being poured through the letterbox and ignited.  It seems likely that the fire had the devastating and fatal effect that it did because of the ignition of petrol poured into the hall rather than because of the firebombs.   It was the fire in the hall that prevented people escaping down the staircase.  The prosecution relied upon this as evidencing the intention to kill, and but for the fire in the hall, I do not consider that an intention to kill would have been proved. 

14. There is also reason to suppose that the petrol in the hall was ignited at a relatively late stage in the attack.    That, as expert evidence confirmed, would explain why Siddiqah Aziz was able to go downstairs and through the hall, but shortly afterwards the fire was so fierce that, despite heroic efforts, she was unable to return.    Moreover the accelerant was poured into the hall only shortly before it was ignited.  If the fire in the hall was always part of the plan, it would be expected that this would have been ignited first: there was obvious danger in lighting the petrol in the hall when the house was already ablaze whereas the firebombs were thrown from a safe distance. 

15. There was detailed evidence at the trial, including expert evidence, about the fire in the hall but there were aspects of this part of the case that were never fully or satisfactorily explained.  For example, it seemed probable that there were two separate sources of petrol in the hall because of the undisputed presence of a small quantity of a chemical called TAME in some of it, and there was some evidence to suggest a connection between that petrol and a shoe of Shahid Mohammed, the fourth man who attacked the house but who was never brought to trial.    However, it suffices to say that, while I am satisfied that the attack on the house was planned, I am not satisfied that there was a significant degree of planning and premeditation that the hall should be ignited and so that the attack should be such as was to prove fatal.    I am unable to dismiss the possibility that this was a late development of the plan, and that Shaied Iqbal formed his intention to kill at a late stage in the arson attack.    Indeed, one explanation for the jury’s conclusion that Shaied Iqbal is guilty of murder and that Nazar Hussain and Shakiel Amir Shazed are not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter would be that they were not persuaded that those other two were party to that development of the attack and so were not persuaded that they had the requisite state of mind to be guilty of murder.

16. This being so and having considered this and the other evidence that I heard at trial, I am unable to conclude with the necessary certainly that the murder by Shaied Iqbal of the victims inside the house involved a substantial degree of planning or premeditation of their deaths on his part.   This, it seems to me, is a conclusion consistent with the verdicts and analysis of the evidence.   Accordingly, in my judgment this is not a case where a whole life order is appropriate according to the general principles set out in schedule 21 of the Act.   Even leaving aside the recommendation in my report to the Home Secretary and the transitional provisions, I conclude that I should specify a minimum period which Shaied Iqbal should serve in prison before being considered for release on licence.

17. Paragraph 5 of schedule 21 to the 2003 Act provides that, if the offender is aged 18 when he committed the offence, the appropriate starting point in determining the minimum term is thirty years when the court considers the seriousness of the offence and any relevant associated offences is particularly high but that there should not be a whole life order.   Among the cases falling within this category are cases of the murder of two or more persons.   This is such a case, and I adopt a starting point of thirty years for determining the minimum term.

18. There are aggravating features of these offences, including these: first, Shaied Iqbal is guilty of the murder of eight people, including five children and Zain-Un-Nisa, who was vulnerable because her age and physical condition hampered her from escaping from an upstairs window.   Secondly, the impact of these offences on the family of the victims was obviously quite devastating, and the letter from Mr Shaffique explains this in moving terms and with great dignity.   In my report to the Home Secretary I wrote:

“The impact on the family of the victims is obviously quite devastating. 

(i) They have lost eight close relations.  The husband of Nafeesa Aziz, who was in Pakistan at the time, has lost his wife and all five of his children. 
(ii) The survivors were present during the fire.  After leaving the house, Mr Chisti heard females screaming inside.  Mohammed Shaffiq described in evidence his mother’s terror as he urged her to leap from the burning house.  Majeed Abdul, another son of Mr Chisti, who lived opposite 40 Osborne Road, described seeing his brother Ateeq screaming at his bedroom window.
(iii) Mohammed Shaffiq was badly injured, and Siddiqah Aziz suffered minor burns.”    

19. These aggravating features are not off-set by any mitigating considerations of remotely comparable weight, although I acknowledge that Shaied Iqbal was a relatively young man when he committed these offences, and that he is an intelligent man.     He had one previous conviction for an incident about which there was some evidence at trial, to which I referred in my report to the Home Secretary and which I do not consider to be an aggravating feature.  

20. If, therefore, this were a case in which there had been no recommendation by the trial judge and to which the transitional provisions of the 2003 Act did not apply, I would have concluded that the minimum term should have been more than thirty years and should have been thirty five years.   However, it is right to bring into account the recommendation in my report and therefore, subject to the transitional provisions, I would have directed a minimum period of thirty years.

21. I therefore come to the transitional provisions in schedule 22 to the Act.   Paragraph 8 provides that the court may not make a whole life order unless it is of the opinion that “under the practice followed by the Secretary of State before December 2002, the Secretary of State would have been likely to notify” the offender that he did not intend that he should ever be released on licence, and the court may not make an order specifying a longer minimum term than that which, “under the practice followed by the Secretary of State before December 2002, the Secretary of State would have been likely to notify…”.   

22. In R v Sullivan, [2004] EWCA 1762 at paragraphs 26 and 27, Lord Woolf CJ made this observation in respect of paragraph 10 of Schedule 22 (which concerns sentences passed on or after the commencement date of the 2003 Act in respect of offences committed before that date and which contains comparable provisions to those of paragraph 8): “When paragraph 10 has to be applied, its language creates difficulties on which the Appellants rely.   It establishes a ceiling for the minimum terms based on the practice of the Secretary of State, prior to December 2002.  But what was the practice of Home Secretaries prior to that date?  Neither the recommendations made by the judiciary nor the determination of the Secretary of State were usually made public.  The Secretary of State took into account information that was not available to the public or the judiciary.  In order to assist the Court after the main hearing of these appeals, the Secretary of State provided the Court and the parties with considerable information in the form of statistics and records and correspondence between the Lord Chief Justice and the Home Office.  This information makes it clear that the best guide to what would have been the practice of the Secretary of State is the Practice Direction issued, respectively, by the present Chief Justice and his predecessor, Lord Bingham of Cornhill.  This is because it can reasonably be assumed that the judiciary and in particular the Chief Justice will have applied the relevant Practice Direction while it was in force and in a high percentage of the cases it was their recommendations that the Secretary of State followed.

There remain at least two more complications.  First, as has been made clear by the Secretary of State, in the most serious cases he tended to select a higher figure than that indicated by the judiciary.  Secondly, by the date of the decision in [R (Anderson) v Secretary of State, [2003] 1 AC 837], the Secretary of State had not yet made a determination in a case where the offender was sentenced after the date of the latest Practice Direction (31st May 2002)”.
 
23. In submissions made on behalf of Shaied Iqbal it is argued that, having determined the minimum period without reference to the transitional provisions, “the judge must “test” it by ensuring that it is not greater than the figure which, under the practice followed by the Secretary of State before December 2002, the Secretary of State would have been likely to have arrived at….  The best guide to this practice prior to 31st May 2002 is the letter sent to judges by Lord Bingham CJ dated 10th February 1997.”  

^Top

24. I make two observations about this argument.   

(i) First, I reject the submission that paragraph 8 of Schedule 22 requires the judge to “test” the conclusion reached without regard to the transitional provisions.   The nature of the exercise is not to test that conclusion.   The question is whether the minimum term ordered should be that determined without regard to the transitional provisions, or some lesser term that is in accordance with the practice adopted by the Secretary of State before December 2002.
(ii) Secondly, it is indeed correct to look for guidance as to practice to Lord Bingham’s letter, to which I shall refer shortly, and also to a Practice Direction - Life Sentence for Murder, issued by Lord Woolf CJ on 27 July 2000, the only significance of which is that it “stated the amount of time actually to be served by an adult convicted of murder in order to meet the requirements of retribution and general deterrence was to continue to be 14 years before the possibility of release arises”: see Sullivan, (loc cit) para 30.     This is the case although by December 2002 Lord Woolf CJ had on 31 May 2002 handed down a Practice Statement (Crime, Life Sentences) [2002] 2 Cr App R 18 which was to be applied by judges making recommendations after 31 May 2002 and which reflected advice given by the Sentencing Advisory Panel on 15 March 2002.    However, in fact the Secretary of State did not notify any offenders that they would have a whole life term  or of a minimum period that they were to serve in any cases in which recommendations were made after 31 May 2002 and based on the Practice Statement.   Accordingly when seeking to ascertain the practice followed by the Secretary of State before December 2002, it is to be recognised that his practice was in respect of cases in which the recommendations were made in light of the guidance in Lord Bingham’s letter: see Sullivan para 39.    (As was explained in Sullivan, this approach requires modification in the case of offences committed after May 2002, but these offences were committed during that month.     This was after the Advice of the Panel, but it has not argued, and in my view rightly not argued, that this is significant.  Nevertheless, I add that I would not have reached a different conclusion in this case had I brought their Advice into account.)

25. The submission advanced on behalf of Shaied Iqbal continues as follows:
 
“It is submitted that in fact the Court should test the provisional figure not against the practice of the Secretary of State but of the judiciary in the period prior to the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.  This is because any tariff fixed after the implementation of the Human Rights  Act 1998 (October 2000), must follow the judicial recommendations as opposed to the ministerial tariffs as the latter would now be seen as having  been unlawful.  [Anderson] To this extent the Court is asked to make a declaration of incompatibility in relation to Schedule 22 paragraph 8 CJA 2003 and Article 6 ECHR.”

26. I reject that submission.    It confuses the purposes of the different stages of thinking required by schedule 22.  The first stage is for the judge to determine by reference to statutory principles and without involvement of the Secretary of State whether it is appropriate for there to be a whole life order and if not what the minimum term should be.    The second and separate stage is not designed to introduce a judicial determination without involvement of the Secretary of State as is required by the Convention, but to protect the offender’s wholly distinct right not to have a heavier punishment than was applicable at the time that the offence was (or offences were) committed.   At the time of these offences, relevant decisions about minimum terms were not taken by the judiciary, who only made recommendations.    To carry out that stage of the process on the basis that the part played by the Secretary of State should be set aside is not only unnecessary in order to comply with the offender’s ECHR rights but potentially undermines the protection of those rights provided by the statute since it cannot be assumed that the Secretary of State would never have imposed a lesser term than the judges recommended.     The question is what decision the Secretary of State would have been likely to have made in light of the recommendation that I made and any recommendation that the Lord Chief Justice might have made. 
   
27. For the reasons referred to in Sullivan, I have not found it easy to decide how paragraph 8 applies to this case.    As I have explained, the starting point must be the guidance in the letter issued to judges by Lord Bingham CJ on 10 February 1997 and the Practice Direction of 2000.  In his letter Lord Bingham explained that his current practice was “to take 14 years as the period actually to be served for the “average”, “normal” or “unexceptional” murder”.    This is not such a case because of the number of deaths for which Shaied Iqbal is responsible, albeit through a singly wrongful act, and because he killed children.   Those are considerations which Lord Bingham identified as “likely to call for a sentence more severe than the norm”. He went on to say that, “While a recommendation of a punitive term longer than, say, 30 years will be very rare indeed, I do not think one should set any upper limit.  Some crimes will certainly call for terms well in excess of the norm.”    

28. In making my recommendation to the Secretary of State, I considered that these offences did call for a minimum term well in excess of 14 years and recommended one of 22 years.  It has not been submitted on Shaied Iqbal’s behalf, and in my judgment it could not properly be argued, that the Secretary of State would have been likely to notify Shaied Iqbal of a shorter minimum term than that.  The question whether he would have been likely to have notified a longer period.
  
29. I have considered this particularly anxiously both because of the unspeakable loss inflicted upon the family of the victims and because the judgment in Sullivan explains that, while generally the Secretary of State confirmed minimum terms in line with the judicial recommendations, nevertheless, as it was said in Lord Woolf CJ’s guidance to the judiciary of 16 December 2003 and later published as a Practice Direction, “The only area where the Secretary of State tended to differ from the guidance set out in Lord Bingham’s letter and the Practice Statement of 27 July 2000 was in relation to the gravest murders.   In cases involving multiple or serial murder, where there are aggravating circumstances and no compelling mitigating factors, the Secretary of State has set minimum terms at a level considerably higher than judicial recommendations.   In such cases, the minimum terms have generally fallen between 30 years and whole life”.    Nevertheless, in my judgment this is a case in which the transitional provisions make a substantial difference to the minimum term that I should order, and significantly reduce it.

30. I have found useful the schedule of cases appended to the submissions made on behalf of Shaied Iqbal and in particular the notes of cases of murder by arson which was committed on a single occasion but which resulted in more than one death (although I acknowledge that in none of these cases did as many as eight people die): see the cases of Harron, of Ray and of Williams.    Elusive though complete and reliable information is and cautious though I must be about drawing conclusions from what is available and although, of course, every case depends upon its particular facts, nevertheless the information available indicates that (i) in cases of multiple deaths resulting from arson attacks the Secretary of State appears to have adopted judicial recommendations; (ii) the minimum terms in such cases were broadly in line with my recommendation in this case; and (iii) many of the cases in which the Secretary of State notified the offender of a much longer term than was recommended by the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice were of sexual or sadistic offending, often on more than one occasion and particularly against children.

31. I conclude that the Secretary of State would have been likely, under the practice followed by him before December 2002, to have notified Shaied Iqbal of a minimum period of 22 years.

32. I should mention three other matters.   First, in submissions made on behalf of Shaied Iqbal, reference is made to his conduct in custody since his sentence.    According to the representations, and I have no reason to doubt them, his conduct has been commendable.   Much of what is said reflects the intelligence that he undoubtedly has.    It is permissible to take conduct after sentence into account to reduce the minimum term that would otherwise be ordered, although this is not done frequently.   I am not persuaded that his conduct has been so exceptional that it should go to reduce his sentence.  I would have reached this conclusion in any event, but this conclusion is reinforced because his minimum terms have been limited by the transitional provisions.

33. Secondly, it has been submitted on behalf of Shaied Iqbal that his minimum term should not exceed 22 years because that is the term that I recommended and he had a “legitimate expectation” that that recommendation would not be exceeded.   This argument, as I understand it, is based upon the announcement of the Home Secretary after the decision in R v Anderson, [2003] 1 AC 837 that he intended to legislate “to establish a clear set of principles within which judges will set minimum tariffs in the future”.   It is said that in light of the decision in Anderson and that announcement, Shaied Iqbal was led to believe that the minimum term that would eventually be fixed would not “be set at a figure higher than the 22 years recommended by [me]”.   I am unable to accept that argument.   Although Mr Iqbal might have had a “legitimate expectation” that his minimum term would be determined by a judicial process, I cannot accept that he was led to believe that what was always presented as a recommendation and no more would restrict the determination reached by the judicial process any more than it would, had the 2003 Act not been enacted, have restricted the determination of the Secretary of State.

34. Thirdly, Shaied Iqbal made representations requesting an oral hearing of this determination.   It is submitted that an oral hearing should be held about whether there is a sufficient basis to draw the inference that Shahid Iqbal intended to kill, whether Shaied Iqbal had a legitimate expectation that his minimum term should be set at no more than the 22 years that I recommended and whether schedule 22 of the 2003 Act is compatible with the ECHR.   However, as I understand Shaied Iqbal’s submissions, the request is for an oral hearing only if the court would otherwise be inclined to order a minimum term of more than 22 years.    In any event, I should not have held an oral hearing.  It is not suggested that evidence should be called at a hearing, and I see no reason to think that any argument could be better or more effectively advanced at an oral hearing than in writing. 

35. Shaied Iqbal served 434 days on remand before being sentenced and that period should count towards his minimum term.  I therefore conclude that the minimum period to be served by Shaied Iqbal in custody before being considered for release on licence should be 22 years, less 434 days.


     
 


^ Top
This page was last updated on 24 November 2006 11:58. Web team.
Contact us . Terms and conditions .