Murderers lose appeal against whole life tariffs

 
Jeremy Bamber Jeremy Bamber was among the three murderers who lost their appeal

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Britain's most dangerous criminals can be kept behind bars for the rest of their lives, judges at the European Court of Human Rights have ruled.

Killers Jeremy Bamber, Peter Moore and Douglas Vinter had asked the court to rule on whole life sentences.

The murderers said condemning them to die in prison amounts to "inhuman or degrading treatment". They argued all sentences should be regularly reviewed.

The Ministry of Justice said the government welcomed this decision.

Bamber was jailed for shooting five members of his family dead in Essex in 1986.

He has always protested his innocence, claiming his schizophrenic sister shot the victims before turning the gun on herself at their farmhouse at Tolleshunt D'Arcy.

Peter Moore, from Kinmel Bay in Conwy county, was convicted of murdering four men for his sexual gratification and Douglas Vinter, of Normanby, Teesside, killed both his wife and a work colleague.

Start Quote

We argued vigorously that there are certain prisoners whose crimes are so appalling that they should never become eligible for parole”

End Quote Ministry of Justice

The trio's legal team had argued that any sentence under which the offender's rehabilitation cannot lead to a review of release breaches articles three, five and seven of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The men lost their appeal to the court that whole life tariffs condemning prisoners to die in jail amounted to "inhuman or degrading treatment".

The judges ruled that the whole life tariff is not "grossly disproportionate" and in each case London's High Court had "decided that an all-life tariff was required, relatively recently and following a fair and detailed consideration".

Lawyers representing Vinter plan to appeal against the ruling on his case.

In a statement released by his supporters, Bamber said: "If the state wishes to have a death penalty, then they should be honest and re-introduce hanging.

"Instead, this political decision that I must die in jail is the death penalty using old age or infirmity as the method.

"It is a method whereby I'm locked in a cell until I'm dead - no matter if it should take 70 or 80 years to happen. I shall be dead the next time I leave jail."

'Quite extraordinary'

Bamber said both the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice set his minimum tariff as 25 years.

"Quite why the home secretary felt that I should die in jail when the judges felt otherwise is a mystery," he said, adding that it was "quite extraordinary" that the European Court felt it was "reasonable" for him to die in jail.

Following the ruling, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said the government "strongly welcomes this decision".

He said: "We argued vigorously that there are certain prisoners whose crimes are so appalling that they should never become eligible for parole.

"We are pleased that the European court has upheld the whole life tariff as a legitimate sentence in British courts."

 

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  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 265.

    258.spider
    just send them to the isle of wight ;)

    ----

    Or for the really nasty people, like Brady, Sutcliff & Tony Blair, the Isle of Man ;-)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 264.

    re 251 - Yes but what if we let them out and they commit a similar crime - and it does happen fairly often.Personally I prefer not to take the risk of incorporating them back into Society.For me there is a world of difference between a misdemeanour (however you may wish to define that) - eg stealing, and a real crime - eg murder

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 263.

    Well it looks like we have a choice. Bang this lot up for an indeterminate time or use that money for better things. What's wrong with capital punishment? OK so a minute number may get the wrong verdict but we live in a world of risk and I for one will take that risk. After all over 3,000 will suffer as we accept the risk of car ownership. Is their any difference?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 262.

    I am in favour of the death penalty, but I do understand the concern over mistaken convictions. However, anyone arguing against the death penalty because it is 'too good for them' is extremely naive. You need only look at the number of criminals in the US plea bargaining for life without parole rather than the death penalty to see that.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 261.

    Well I never! The ECHR has actually come to a sensible decision! Pity they did not apply such common sense to the extremist imam. He should be booted out forthwith, as any other country would do.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 260.

    @224.
    Gimmeabreak

    "If the DP is no deterrent to murderer...then society hasn't actually lost anything by exterminating them, surely"

    apart from "innocent collateral" you referred to earlier, which you haven't volunteered to be part of. Have you any proof the death penalty is a deterrent? Due to similar social conditions, I think the comparison between US states with and without the DP is valid

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 259.

    226. blurightthru

    If it deterred then you would expect a sudden increase after abolition when all those deterred by CP would feel free to act. This didn't occur. The number of offences of all kinds increased 5 fold in the same period along with a near doubling in the number of police. I suggest that any increase in the murder rate is due to an increase in general lawlessness not deterrence.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 258.

    just send them to the isle of wight ;)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 257.

    Thank goodness for common sense. The death penalty is a step too far as there is always fallibility in the justice system, but the vast majority of those convicted have in fact committed the crimes. Therefore, it's entirely appropriate that those considered a threat to society should be kept in prison until they die, or until they're too old or infirm to pose a risk.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 256.

    234 - there have been loads of peer reviewed academic studies on the efficacy of the death penalty and not one has shown that it is a deterrent. In the USA the states with the highest murder rates have the death penalty so even anecdotally it would appear not to work. However I would like to see as the song says a return to "breaking rocks in the hot sun" for all violent criminals.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 255.

    247.Green Future

    I think you are confusing the European Union with the European Court of Human Rights, they are not the same thing.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 254.

    Life should mean life. I studied the death penalty for my undergraduate dissertation and found that life imprisonment, where life means life, is a greater deterrent than capital punishment. The 1993 Duke University Study also found that life imprisonment is cheaper than executing a prisoner where there is an adequate appeals process in place. The European Court has made a good decision here.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 253.

    236.MikeSimplex
    "an innocent man is not going to self euthanise"
    why not? He losses hope thinking evidence will never be found, misses so much - wife leaves etc.


    235.thedannymess
    "the hang 'em high brigade"

    I would appreciate if you could read 141 and offer a suggestion (assuming your, anti "the hang 'em high brigade"), its a moral dilema & I'd like to know your view/answer.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 252.

    Headline's wrong: it's not an appeal.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 251.

    I disagree with this, and let me tell you why.

    I'll make it clear first, I don't want to belittle the act of murder by saying someone shouldn't spend the rest of their life in prison.

    But, the problem is, it crushes any hope of reforming. There are a few reasons for imprisonment. One is to protect the public from a killer. Another is to reform the prisoner to incorporate them back into society.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 250.

    I think the terms given to criminals convicted of murder (and even attempted murder) should be the same length as the person they've killed would have been expected to live with a minimum of 30 years. i.e. if the average life expectancy is 75 and they kill someone who is 15 then the sentence is 70 years, if they kill someone who is 75 then it's 30 years.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 249.

    It's always fun reading threads like this, where the pitchfork Taliban are trying to out do each other in showing off just who hates bad things the most and who can think of the baddest things to do to the baddest people.

    It's a fair bet some of them would also claim that 'this is a Christian country', without an iota of irony.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 248.

    Life should mean exactly that - convicted murderers categorically deserve to have all life's privileges removed. Comments such as those stating it is 'wrong to take away hope' and it is 'unduly hard for...the prisoner' are pathetic. Die in prison - Yes.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 247.

    16.chiptheduck
    Nice of the EU to tell us what we can do with our criminals.
    ----
    What does this have to do with the EU?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 246.

    31.OldWoodman

    In total agreement with you there and has been my somewhat ambilavent stance. Support the DP in theory, but not in practice.
    Bamber also highlights one of my other arguments - that many who oppose the death penalty do so out of cowardice/squeemishness and not the possibility of a miscarriage of justice

 

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