Could these three cases have been averted if sentencing laws were tightened?
74% of the British public believe that prison sentencing is too lenient (Source: Crime survey for England and Wales, 2010/2011)
Ernest Wright had been in trouble with the police since the age of eight. In 1971, he murdered Trevor Hale by attacking him with an iron bar in a crime of passion related to Wright’s supposed feelings for Hale’s wife. He was apprehended and sentenced to life imprisonment for Hale’s murder, serving 26 years. He was released in 1999 and moved to Bradford, West Yorkshire.
On 30th March 2009, there was a knock on the door at the home of Neville Corby and his partner Craig Freear. Freear opened the door to be confronted by a man wearing a ski mask and brandishing a shotgun, who chased him through the house. Craig managed to escape the attack by jumping from an upstairs window. Corby, who was in an upstairs bedroom, was shot at point blank range, then assaulted with the gun and shot again. He died from his injuries.
Freear was able to identify the attacker as Ernest Wright, and it was later discovered that wright had staked out the property for over two hours before the attack. Wright was sentenced to a whole life prison sentence for Corby’s murder and the attempted murder of Freear in 2010.
The reoffending rate for adults released from custody in October 2013 to September 2014 was 45.5%(Source: Ministry of Justice, 2016)
In 1995 Roy Whiting kidnapped and sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl. Whiting was given a four year sentence. The fact that he admitted his guilt and his lack of a criminal record before the attack contributed to the short sentence. Whiting ended up only serving 29 months for the crimes. Whiting requested psychological treatment when he was originally sentenced, but refused this treatment when it was offered to him.
Sarah Payne disappeared from her grandparents’ property in West Sussex on 1st July 2000 after she had been playing with her brothers and sister. A huge search operation was launched, but Sarah’s body was found in a field on 17th July, 15 miles from where she disappeared. She had been sexually assaulted before her murder.
Whiting was one of the first to be questioned in the aftermath of Sarah’s disappearance, due to his residence’s close proximity to the site of her disappearance and the fact that he was a registered sex offender.
After being caught stealing a car on the 23rd of July, police carried out forensic tests on Whiting’s van. He was formally charged with Payne’s kidnap and murder on 6th February 2001.
His trial began in late 2001. David Blunkett, the Home Secretary at the time of Whiting’s conviction, set his minimum sentence at 50 years – meaning that he will be eligible for release at the age of 92.
After years of campaigning by Sarah’s mother Sara, the Home Secretary announced the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scene (known as Sarah’s Law) would be introduced across England and Wales in 2011. It gives any parent or guardian the right to ask the police if anyone with access to a child has a record of child sexual offences.
Only 26% of people questioned are confident that the probation system is effective at preventing criminals from re-offending. (Source: Crime survey for England and Wales, 2013/2014)
By 21, Donald Andrews had been responsible for the deaths of two men. However, he was convicted of double manslaughter rather than murder – and handed a sentence of 15 years.
In 2002 he violently sexually assaulted a woman in Croydon, and was sentenced to a further six years. Once he was released again, his next victim was Victoria Legg.
On 17th September 2011 Legg was out in Bromley town centre with friends. Originally Andrews approached Victoria and offered to let her use his phone to contact her friends, who she had become separated from. However, he instead led her to his flat. Andrews bolted the door behind her and launched into a physical and sexual attack that lasted over twelve hours.
The following evening Andrews eventually agreed to let Victoria go. However, under the guise of taking her to a train station, Andrews led Legg to a deserted park to attack and rape her again. He then threw her over a bridge. Her body fell 12 feet into a concrete drain where she was left to die. Miraculously Victoria managed to crawl to a nearby garden for help. When she was found Victoria was semi-conscious and had hypothermia. Once she was conscious she was able to tell the police about the ordeal, but when they arrived at Andrews’ flat to question him he was nowhere to be found and the place had been cleared.
He was eventually apprehended a few days later, and pleaded guilty to all ten charges; including kidnapping and rape. He was handed a whole life sentence in May 2012; the only non-murderer to be given this kind of sentence to date. Victoria was confined to a wheelchair for a year. She died on 15th November 2013 as a result of prescription medication intoxication.