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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:[2007] EWHC 244 (QB)

Case No: 2004 / 529 / MTS


Date: 27th February 2007:


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I direct that no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic











Setting of minimum term
Pursuant to schedule 22 para 3 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003

On the 28 November 2002, in the Crown Court at Plymouth, the defendant, Kenny, was convicted of murder.  The events occurred in Cliff Road, Plymouth on 21 June 2001.  At about midnight the deceased was walking along the pavement on that road in the company of a friend. 

Kenny was the driver of a car with three passengers.  He had been drinking throughout the day, on top of which we had smoked cannabis and taken some DF 118 pills.  The deceased, Neil Pearson and his friend, Stuart Gallacher, were seen walking towards the car along the pavement on the opposite side of the rod. 

Although earlier Kenny had been driving dangerously fast, he was proceeding at about the speed limit.  Kenny suggested robbing the two men but another occupant of the car demurred on the grounds that the potential victims were too big.  Kenny’s response was to say “No – fuck it – I am going to run them over”. 

Kenny turned the car round further up the street, drove slowly back and then suddenly caused the car to mount the pavement immediately behind the two men.  Gallacher (who has provided a victim’s impact statement) was knocked aside and received minor injuries.  But Pearson was scooped up onto the bonnet whereupon Kenny accelerated despite Pearson screaming for him to stop.  After about 70 metres, Kenny braked sharply.  Pearson was thrown to the ground and received fatal injuries when his head contacted the ground.

The only mitigating factor was the preparedness of the defendant at the beginning of the trial to offer a plea to manslaughter, a plea which was acceptable to the prosecution on the basis that the car had been used as a weapon in furtherance of a robbery albeit with no intention to cause really serious injury.  In the event the defendant sought an indication from the court that a determinate sentence would be passed in that event.  Such an indication was not forthcoming.

The aggravating factors include the use of a car to promote a robbery and the subsequent acceleration heedless of the victim’s predicament.  In short, a deliberate hit followed by a deliberate run.  The defendant’s reaction after the event was to the effect that he had enjoyed the experience and would repeat it.  This was not pure bravado.  The defendant gave every appearance of being devoid of remorse, save in the sense of being held responsible in circumstances where he thought others were also to blame. 

This carried forward into his conduct following the arrest and during the trial.  Following arrest, after an initial period when he was regarded as unfit for interview as a consequence of his consumptions of drink and drugs, he sought to feign psychiatric illness

Thereafter, he made an admission in his interview that he had been the driver.  But he later contended that this had been invented or concocted by his solicitor.  At the trial, he sought to establish that another person in the car had been the driver. 
He not only contended unsuccessfully that all prosecution witness were conspiring against him but tried to suborn another prisoner in Exeter prison to give false evidence on his behalf.

In my judgment the appropriate tariff period is 14 years less the period spent in custody on remand (1 year 5 months 3 days).





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