74 Cambridge L.J. 1 (2015)

handle is hein.journals/camblj74 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Cambridge Law Journal, 74(1), March 2015, pp. 1-48


                               THE

 CAMBRIDGE                      LAW              JOURNAL


 VOLUME 74, PART 1                                      MARCH  2015



                    CASE AND COMMENT


             THE WHOLE-LIFE SENTENCE IN ENGLAND AND WALES
THERE   can be little doubt that there is disagreement between the Court of
Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) over the whole-
life sentence in England and Wales. Despite evolving jurisprudence on the
issue of life-long detention emanating from Strasbourg, the Court of Appeal
has readily upheld the English whole-life sentence in recent years. It has
been doing so by adopting a very wide interpretation of the Secretary of
State's power to order the compassionate release of a life sentence prisoner.
   The latest instalment of this saga was played out in the Court of Appeal
in Attorney General's Reference (No. 69 of2013) [2014] EWCA Crim 188;
[2014] 1 W.L.R. 3964, in which the court considered two separate appeals.
In October 2013, Ian McLoughlin had pleaded guilty to murder and to rob-
bery - offences committed whilst on day release from an open prison where
he was already serving a life sentence for an earlier murder. When deter-
mining a minimum   term for murder, sentencing judges must have regard
to the statutory framework set out in s. 269 of, and Sch. 21 to, the
Criminal Justice Act 2003 (the 2003 Act). Under this scheme, a murder
committed  by an offender previously convicted of murder would nor-
mally fall within the ambit of the whole-life starting point (and in the
case of McLoughlin, who also had an earlier conviction for manslaughter,
in addition to his previous conviction for murder, a whole-life sentence
would  be anticipated). Passing sentence at the Central Criminal Court,
Sweeney  J. instead imposed a minimum term of 40 years; this sentence
was challenged as unduly lenient by the Attorney General, under s. 36 of
the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The other appellant was Lee Newell, who
was convicted of murder and theft for an offence committed in prison,
where he was already serving a life sentence for murder. Newell was sen-
tenced to a whole-life order for this murder; he appealed, arguing that in-
stead a (lengthy) determinate minimum term should have been imposed.


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