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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: [2009] EWHC 395 (QB)

Case No: 2004/1018/MTR

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 12/03/2009

Before :

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Between :

                                   Regina Claimant
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                          Anthony Entwistle Defendant

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Approved Judgment
I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.



Mr Justice Davis :
1. The applicant (date of birth:  14 November 1949) was convicted of murder by unanimous verdict on 9 March 1988 after a trial at Preston Crown Court before Rose J and a jury.  He was sentenced, as was mandatory, to life imprisonment.
2. The trial Judge considered that the minimum length of detention necessary to meet the requirements of retribution and deterrence was 25 years.  The then Lord Chief Justice had no comment to make on that recommendation save that he doubted if the applicant should ever be released.  In due course the Home Secretary set a whole life tariff.
3. I am required to have regard to the matters set out in Schedules 22 and 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and to the tariff principles applicable at the time of the original conviction (see Consolidated Practice Direction, paragraph IV.49.14ff).
4. I have seen written representations on behalf of the applicant.  No representations have been lodged by the CPS.  The applicant’s advisers have requested an oral hearing, but I do not consider that one is necessary.
5. The brief description of the offence, set out in the trial Judge’s report, was that the applicant strangled, by hand ligature in the course of rape, a 16 year old virgin who was a stranger to him.  He had abducted her while she was walking along a canal.  The issues were accident and intent.  Clearly, by its verdict, the jury rejected the defence case.
6. The applicant had numerous previous convictions.  These include convictions for two offences of rape for which he was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in total on 24 April 1974 and a further conviction for rape for which he was sentenced to a term of 10 years imprisonment on 7 November 1980.  The present offence was committed within a few weeks of his release from that sentence.
7. The applicant had a troubled family background.  Psychiatric reports obtained in 1987 and 1988 recorded a level of intelligence certainly above the average.  There was no evidence of significant mental illness, although a possibility of some sort of psychopathic disorder was suggested as a hypothesis;  but it was stressed that his behaviour was within his own control and that he knew what he was doing.
8. This was an appalling crime, not only by reference to its own dreadful circumstances but also by reference to the antecedent history of the applicant.
9. The minimum term that I am required to set, however, is by reference to considerations of retribution and deterrence.  The question of dangerousness, and whether it can ever be safe to release the applicant, is a matter for the Parole Board in considering whether or not to release the applicant on licence.  As at present advised, I share the concerns previously expressed that it may never be safe to release the applicant.
10. Nevertheless, for the purposes solely of retribution and deterrence, I do not think it right that a whole life tariff be imposed.  In all the circumstances I specify the minimum term which the applicant must serve before be may be considered for release as one of 25 years imprisonment;  from which there is then further to be deducted a period of 10 months 20 days representing time spent in custody on remand.  I repeat that this does not mean that the applicant necessarily will be released after the expiry of that time.  He can only be released if ever (and it maybe never) he is assessed as no longer a danger to the public.

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