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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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No. MTS/339/2004


        Royal Courts of Justice
        The Strand
        WC2A 2LL

        Thursday  3  November  2005


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 R E G I N A
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 J U D G M E N T



Thursday  3  November  2005

1.   On 31 May 2002, at Winchester Crown Court, Raymond John Hunt and Paul Fawley were convicted of murdering Lee Horrell.  They were sentenced to imprisonment for life.  In my report to the Home Secretary I recommended minimum terms of imprisonment of 19 years for Hunt and 16 years for Fawley.

2.  Horrell was murdered on 11 November 2000.  He was last seen alive during the early evening with Hunt in a van parked at a car park on the outskirts of Portsmouth.  Shortly before midnight the van was set on fire at an industrial estate near Fareham. 

3.  Horrell's body was found six weeks later buried in a shallow grave at a woodland site in the Forest of Bier(?) a few miles north of Fareham.  He had been stabbed in the chest and strangled with an elastic bungie.  The stab wound would have caused serious injury but would not have been fatal if treated.  The cause of death was strangulation.

4.  The defendants were implicated by a combination of confession evidence, circumstantial evidence and scientific evidence.  At the trial they denied being involved in his death and gave false accounts of their movements.

5.  Only they know what happened, but I concluded from the evidence that the likely sequence of events was that Hunt had an argument with Horrell in the van and stabbed him.  Horrell begged to be taken to hospital.  Instead, Hunt telephoned Fawley to enlist his help.  They met and drove in convoy to the wood, where Horrell was strangled.  Hunt and Fawley then drove to the industrial estate and set fire to the van.

6.  In my report to the Home Secretary I identified the following aggravating features:

(1) the murder was carried out deliberately;

(2) the murder was carried out in a particularly cruel and horrible way; however quick the final process of strangulation may have been, the victim must have undergone a prolonged agony of fear and suffering;

(3) the defendants attempted to conceal the crime by disposal of the body;

(4) covert tape-recordings of conversations at the defendants' homes after the event revealed a callousness on their part towards what had happened to the victim.

There were no mitigating features.

7.  I have no doubt that Hunt was the leader and instigator; but Fawley willingly helped him in committing the murder and concealing  the crime.

8.  Hunt and Fawley have each made representations on the minimum term sentence, which I have considered.  Both now admit that they were involved in Horrell's death, but each blames the other for what happened.  According to Hunt, Fawley strangled Horrell while Hunt looked on in horror.  According to Fawley, Hunt strangled Horrell while Fawley stood by in shock.  Both Hunt and Fawley told lies to the police and lies to the jury.  Now that they have been convicted, both are trying to minimise their roles.  I do not regard either of them as credible. 

9.  Hunt's latest account does not cause me to change my view that he was the prime instigator of the murder.  If he had intended to take Horrell to hospital, he would have done so and there would have been no need for him to summon help from Fawley.  He needed Fawley's help to dispose of Horrell and the van.

10.  Fawley's latest account is equally unconvincing.  He does not give a credible explanation of why, if Hunt wanted his help, they drove to the wood, or why (on his account) he watched Hunt murder Horrell without saying or doing anything to try to stop him.  Hunt would not have been able to carry out the crime and conceal the evidence single handed.  Fawley provided the help Hunt wanted.

11.  Under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, Schedule 22, the minimum term which I must set must be not greater than that which would be likely to have been set by the Home Secretary.  I have taken into account the starting point for setting a tariff period at that time.  I am conscious that the former Lord Chief Justice said in his comments on my report to the Home Secretary that he would set a slightly lower period for each defendant: Hunt, 18 years; and Fawley, 15 years.

12.  After reconsideration I remain of the view that the gravity of this murder was such that the minimum terms should be those which I have previously recommended, that is 19 years for Hunt and 16 years for Fawley.  I do not consider that those periods are greater than are likely to have been set by the Home Secretary.

13.  I do not have details before me of the time spent by each of the defendants on remand, but that time should count as part of the minimum periods which I have set.  For the avoidance of doubt, this means that the minimum term to be served by Hunt, after the date of conviction and the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment, will be 19 years, less the time which he had already spent on remand.  The same principle applies in the case of Fawley.


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