Nottingham

Corpse sex fetish inmate gets 45 years for death threats

Richard Ford Image copyright Lincolnshire Police
Image caption Richard Ford wrote letters threatening to kill people - including several prison officers - and have sex with their corpses

A "dangerous" prisoner who wrote letters threatening to kill people and have sex with their corpses has been jailed for 45 years.

Richard Ford, 38, was serving a 30-month sentence for possessing a knife when he made the threats from his cell.

A judge passed the "highly unusual" sentence after hearing of Ford's fear he would enact his "sadistic urges".

He acknowledged the term "may be controversial" but said it was necessary to protect the public.

Ford, who has spent most of the last 14 years in jail, was being held at HMP Nottingham last January when he passed a series of notes to prison officers containing a list of potential victims.

'Danger to public'

He named several prison officers, a fellow inmate, a district judge, a police officer and a former partner.

Sentencing at Lincoln Crown Court, Judge Michael Heath told Ford, who admitted ten charges of making a threat to kill, the case had caused him "very considerable anxiety".

He said Ford, who had expressed a desire to never be released from prison, was "plainly dangerous" and "would pose a grave and immediate danger to the public".

But, the judge said, he was bound under the law to pass a sentence which was not "wholly disproportionate" to the offence of making threats to kill, which carries a maximum ten-year jail term.

"Achieving both of these aims in this case is impossible," he said.


Analysis

By Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent

This case is truly exceptional, and the sentence passed shows the ability of the criminal justice system to do something exceptional in response to it.

Most defendants who are as dangerous as Richard Ford would have committed offences which carry a life sentence. A few years ago another option would have been an indeterminate sentence for public protection, or IPP.

These were designed to protect the public against those whose crimes were not serious enough to merit a normal life sentence but who were seen as too dangerous to be released when the term of their original sentence had expired. They were abolished in 2012.

Threats to kill carry a maximum sentence of ten years. Normally a judge will balance the need to protect the public with the fact that a sentence must be proportionate to the crimes committed. Judge Michael Heath made it clear that in these exceptional circumstances he erred on the side of protecting the public and so passed a sentence which might ordinarily seem disproportionate to the crimes committed.


The judge imposed a mix of consecutive and concurrent nine-year jail terms, adding up to a total of 45 years.

"I realise that the overall length of the sentences I am going to pass is highly unusual and may be controversial but I pass them because I deem them to be the only adequate way to protect the public in your case," he said.

"You say you don't feel that you can stop yourself from acting upon your sadistic urges. Those urges are to kill and have sexual intercourse with the corpses of those whom you kill.

"You have made it clear to me that you do not wish to be released from prison. If you are released you think you will get drunk, obtain a weapon and kill."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Richard Ford made the threats while at HMP Nottingham

Consecutive vs concurrent

  • Consecutive sentences are given when the crimes committed are unrelated or there is an "aggravating element" that requires separate recognition
  • Examples of when consecutive sentences are handed down include assaulting a police officer while evading arrest or a crime that includes both drug dealing and gun possession
  • Concurrent sentences are given when several crimes occur during the same incident such as driving while disqualified and without licence.
  • The main reason for giving a concurrent sentence is to ensure that jail terms are not disproportionate to the offending

Source: The Sentencing Council


Isabelle Wilson, in mitigation, said Ford did not feel he was safe to be released and wanted to receive treatment either in a prison or in a hospital setting.

"The thoughts he discusses are concerning but at least he is willing to speak about those thoughts openly," she said.

The court was told Ford had been assessed by a number of psychiatrists but there was no recommendation that he receive hospital treatment.

Judge Heath said that, therefore, he was not legally able to make a hospital order.

The court was told Ford had convictions from 2002 and 2003 for indecency offences against men.

He was also convicted for possession of a knife in a public place in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

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