26 November 2009
This deals with the punishment parts of sentences in murder cases.
Nature of the case
This case is about how long the “punishment part” should be in a murder case. The “punishment part” is the minimum period the guilty person must serve in prison before they can be allowed out on licence.
The case concerned three men who had been convicted of murder. The first, Bryan Boyle, and the second, Greig Maddock, were convicted of the murder of Robert Bowie. Mr Boyle attacked Mr Bowie and severely injured him. Mr Maddock arrived and the two men then poured petrol on Mr Bowie and set him on fire. He died of his injuries five days later.
Mr Boyle was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a punishment part of 15 years. Mr Maddock was sentenced to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 12 years.
The third man, Robert Kelly, pled guilty to the murder of Agnes Mechen. He strangled her and hid her body after intending to rob her. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 15 years.
In each case the Crown appealed against these sentences on the basis that the punishment parts set were too low.
In this case, the High Court of Justiciary issued guidance on:
A Bench of five High Court judges decided that:
The judges ruled that the appeal against sentence in the cases of Mr Boyle, Mr Maddock and Mr Kelly should not be looked at in light of the guidelines they were issuing, because their sentences had be given before these guidelines were set out. They decided that the punishment parts in relation to the three men were too low, and substituted periods of 20 years for Mr Boyle, 18 years for Mr Maddock and 22 years for Mr Kelly. They then discounted three years from Mr Kelly’s sentence because he had pled guilty, making it 19 years.