UK Courts: Life time sentence vs. human rights

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UK Cuorts

On Tuesday the courts in London, made a new judgement in the case of Ian McLooughlin who was referred by Dominic Grieve, Attorney General to the court of Appeal as he was more than lenient in his findings. In what now appears to be a stand up against the European Court of Human Rights; the Britain’s Court of Appeal has found that the sentence was unduly compassionate, and a whole life order has been deputed.

The European Court of Human Rights endorse the fact that no judge has the right to jail even the most solemn offenders In England and Wales for the rest of their lives. In an earlier ruling made by them, whole-life tariffs violate a prisoner’s human rights and the possibility of ‘no parole’ is callous and demeaning. The Strasbourg based human rights court however is of the notion that all sentences should be reviewed after 25 years in spite of the nature of the crime. 

Although a panel of five judges at the Court of Appeal is backing up the  government and are in favor of  “life should mean life” in the most atrocious cases. McLoughlin had earlier been convicted for manslaughter in 1984, a conviction for murder in 1992, and the murder for which he is being sentenced was committed in the course of a robbery. The case had been referred by the Attorney General in November 2103 to the Court of Appeal.

Speaking on the judgement, Grieve said, “I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has today confirmed that those who commit the most heinous crimes can be sent to prison for the rest of their lives. As someone who has killed three times, Ian McLoughlin committed just such a crime, and following today’s judgement he has received the sentence that crime required”. 

“I asked the Court of Appeal to look again at McLoughlin’s original sentence because I did not think that the European Court of Human Rights had said anything which prevented our courts from handing down whole life terms in the most serious cases. The Court of Appeal has agreed with me and today’s judgement gives the clarity our judges need when they are considering sentencing cases like this in the future,” the AG added.

Justice Lord Thomas, Lord Chief, who headed the panel, said “Judges should therefore continue as they have done to impose whole-life orders in those rare and exceptional cases which fall within the statutory scheme”. Forty-nine English prisoners are currently serving whole-life sentences and the ruling has paved a way for the sentencing of other such high profile murder cases that have been on hold till now.

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