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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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Case No: 2005/106/MTR
 
Neutral Citation Number: [2008] EWHC 785 [QB]
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION

Liverpool Crown Court

Date: Friday 16th May 2008


Before:

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE BUTTERFIELD


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Between:

 Regina
 
 V
 
 Alicia Ann Jenkins 

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JUDGMENT
 
Mr Justice Butterfield:

1. On 26th May 2000 at the Central Criminal Court before His Honour Judge Forrester and a jury Alicia Ann Jenkins, now 51 years of age, was convicted of murder.  On 23rd June 2000 she was sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial judge recommended that she serve a minimum period of 14 years, a recommendation with which the Lord Chief Justice agreed.
2. On 2nd October 2002 the Secretary of State informed the applicant that her tariff had been set at 12 years.  The applicant’s case has been referred to me for the making of an order under Section 269 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 in relation to the mandatory life sentence.
3. In determining the appropriate minimum period to be served by the applicant I have directed myself by reference to the provisions of Schedule 22 to the 2003 Act and in particular paragraphs 5-8.  In assessing the seriousness of the offence I am required to have regard to the general principles set out in Schedule 21 and to the recommendation made by the trial Judge and the Lord Chief Justice as to the minimum term to be served.
4. The victim of the murder was Mitchell Davis, a 16 year old schoolboy.  There were 6 accused including the applicant.  She was the mother of two of the accused, David Jenkins and Terry Jenkins.  Terry Jenkins was beaten up by a group of youths, amongst whom the deceased boy was prominent.  Terry Jenkins told the other defendants what had happened to him.  Instead of going to the Police all 6 accused got into the applicant’s car and went off in search of those responsible, with the applicant driving.  David Jenkins had a kitchen knife in his possession.  On the jury’s verdict the other 5 defendants knew he had it and yet went along with the venture.  The others were not, however, armed.
5. At about midnight they came across the victim walking along the pavement.  The applicant stopped the car and the 5 youths in it got out.  David Jenkins went up to the victim and stabbed him 5 times to the body, causing injuries from which he died soon thereafter.  Terry Jenkins and another youth accompanied David Jenkins as he confronted the victim, thereby lending him support.  Additionally Terry Jenkins it was who identified the victim as his assailant.  The remaining two accused chased down the road after the companion of the victim.  In consequence the victim was isolated and still more vulnerable to the contemplated attack. 
6. David Jenkins was convicted as the primary party.  The other 5 accused were convicted on the basis of a joint enterprise with him, knowing he had a knife and that he might well use it to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm, as in fact he did.
7. In passing sentence the trial Judge attributed particular blame to the primary party and also to the applicant who drove all the youths to the scene and took her two sons away from the scene, stopping at a nearby lake in order to allow them to dispose of the weapon.  The Judge concluded that in view of her status and maturity much blame attached to her.  The other 4 accused played lesser roles.
8. In assessing the period of years to be served in custody necessary to meet the requirements of retribution and general deterrence so far as the applicant is concerned the Judge observed that she was the mother of two of the defendants.  She should never have driven the 5 youths in her car to the scene of the crime, nor her two sons away from it, enabling the murder weapon to be disposed of, nor to have lied about the incident afterwards, as she did. 
9. The applicant is of previous good character and had employment.  She has brought up 3 children on her own for many years.  Her third child, a 16 year old girl, is the only member of her family now at liberty.  Nevertheless, the Judge concluded that her responsibility was only slightly less than the primary party David Jenkins, who played the most prominent role and actually inflicted the fatal injuries.  In his case the Judge recommended a tariff of 15 years.
10. Representations to the Secretary of State following the provision of the trial Judge’s report carefully analysed the involvement of the applicant in the offence and put forward impressive character references whilst also emphasising her difficult personal circumstances.  She has also responded well to the prison regime.  It was, no doubt, in the light of those representations that the Secretary of State fixed the tariff which ultimately he did.
11. Representations submitted on behalf of the applicant for the purpose of reviewing the minimum term set by the Secretary of State submit that the minimum term should be reduced on the basis that the applicant has made exceptional progress in prison.  She is a model prisoner, she has completed substantial offending behaviour work, and has shown remorse and contrition for the death of the victim.  That said, I note that she still maintains that she did not know that one of her sons was armed with a knife, an assertion which is contrary to the verdict of the jury and which suggests that she still to some extent minimises her responsibility for what took place. 
12. The family of the victim have also made representations.  Unsurprisingly they remain devastated by the terrible death of a young man on the threshold of his life and speak of the crushing impact the killing has had upon the members of the deceased’s family.  There has been no request for an oral hearing and I do not consider such a hearing to be necessary.
13. In terms of Schedule 21 this offence is one to which the 15 year starting point provided in paragraph 6 would apply.  There are no statutory aggravating features, although the offence is clearly aggravated by the fact that this was an armed revenge attack in which the applicant played her full part.  The only statutory mitigating factor is that it could be said that her intention was that the victim should be caused really serious bodily harm rather than be killed.  Those two aggravating and mitigating factors in my judgment largely balance each other out.  If I was imposing a minimum term today I consider that the appropriate period would be one of 14-15 years
14. In order to comply with Article 7 the term set under Section 269 must not be greater than that which the Secretary of State for the Home Department in fact sets.  This was a murder committed before 31st May 2002 so that the starting point for an average, unexceptional offence would have been 14 years
15. I am not persuaded that the progress made by the applicant whilst in custody, satisfactory though it undoubtedly is, is of such an exceptional nature as to justify a reduction in her tariff.  She has sought to make the most of her time in prison.  It must be remembered, however, that had she not so conducted herself it is unlikely that the Parole Board would be prepared to direct her release even after she has served the tariff for this very serious offence.
16. Having regard to the factors I have identified and after carefully reconsidering the case I have concluded that the minimum term should be set at a period of 12 years.  By virtue of paragraph 4(1)(b) of Schedule 22 account must also be taken of the time spent in custody on remand prior to sentence.  In my judgment there is no reason why that time should not count towards the minimum period to be served by the applicant.  According the specified period is one 12 years less the period of 81 days spent in custody on remand.

 


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