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


Case No:  MTS / 555 / 2004
Neutral Citation Number:  [2006] EWHC 701 (QB)

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL


5TH APRIL 2006









1. On the 25th July, 2002, Shaun William Healy (“Healy”), then aged 42, was convicted before me of the murder of Jonathan Styles. On the 30th July, 2002, I set the “tariff” at 12 years.
2. In doing so, I applied the guidance contained in the Practice Statement handed down on the 31st May, 2002 (“the Practice Statement”). 
3. In summary, I took the view that there was no reason to depart from the normal starting point, found in that Practice Statement. 
4. With this recommendation, the Lord Chief Justice (Lord Woolf) subsequently agreed. 
5. For completeness, I should add that although the murder had been committed on the 3rd March, 2001, there was no suggestion at the time, from anyone, that the guidance to be followed was that set out in the letter of Lord Bingham, dated 10th February, 1997 (“the Lord Bingham letter”).
6. Having regard to s.269 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (“the Act”) and applying the guidance contained in Schedules 21 and 22 to the Act, in accordance with the Practice Direction issued on 29th July, 2004:
(i) The starting point would now be 15 years.
(ii) Various defences had been unsuccessfully raised. Realistically, the principal defence was that of diminished responsibility.
(iii) When I set the minimum term, I concluded, against the background of a 12 years starting point, that (a) the fact that Healy had armed himself in advance and (b) his abnormality of mind, largely cancelled each other out, so that it was appropriate for the starting point to stand as the minimum term.
(iv) Having regard to my duty to arrive at an “appropriate” minimum term (s.269(3) of the Act) and to do justice in the particular case, on the basis of a starting point of 15 years, I think it likely that I would have fixed a minimum term somewhat below that figure and in the region of 12 years. 
(v) Doing the best I can, I think it likely that I would likewise have fixed a minimum term in the region of 12 years and, hence, somewhat below the “tariff” figure of 14 years, contained in the Lord Bingham letter – if I had then been applying that guidance.
(vi) In summary, to my mind, this is a case where the changes in the guidance do not impact on the fixing of a just minimum term.
(vii) There is no reason to suppose that, under the practice followed by the Secretary of State prior to December 2002, the Secretary of State would, in all the circumstances of this case, have been likely to set a minimum term in excess of 12 years.
(viii) Accordingly, even if (contrary to (iv) and (v) above), I might now have fixed a minimum term in the region of 14 – 15 years, in order to comply with the principle of non-retroactivity, the minimum term should remain at 12 years.
(ix) There would now need to be deducted from any minimum term the 10 months and 16 days spent in custody on remand.
7. In the result, I fix the minimum term at 12 years, less 10 months and 16 days spent in custody on remand.


Gross J/ 20th March, 2006.

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