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Murderer launches first 'whole life' appeal against sentence

A triple murderer has launched the first challenge against a "whole life" sentence after an EU ruling which said a tariff forcing murderers to die in jail was “inhuman and degrading”, following an appeal by three killers.

These included Jeremy Bamber, who killed five members of his family in 1985.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Arthur Hutchinson, serving a “whole life” tariff for stabbing a wealthy couple and their son to death after breaking into their home in 1985, and then raping a woman, is to attempt to have his sentence declared a breach of his human rights.

Legal experts feared the initial challenge by Bamber and two other killers would lead to a deluge of similar claims, at great expense to the taxpayer, by all 49 killers and rapists serving whole life tariffs, as well as other murderers handed long sentences.

Judges rule that whole-life sentences are 'inhuman'

Jeremy Bamber, who murdered five of his family members, and two other killers were told their whole-life tariffs amounted to a breach of human rights.

The European Court of Human Rights said whole-life sentences were "inhuman and degrading".

ITV News deputy political editor Chris Ship reports:


Life terms ruling a 'distortion of European Convention'

Conservative MP Dominic Raab has branded the European Court of Human Rights ruling on life sentences as a "gross distortion of the European Convention".

It shows the warped moral compass of the Strasbourg Court that it allows three brutal murderers to sue Britain for 'inhuman treatment' for jailing them for life to protect the public.

It is a gross distortion of the European Convention, an attack on the UK's democratic right to set its own criminal justice policy, and toxic for the reputation of human rights with the public.

– Conservative MP Dominic Raab

April Jones' father: A life sentence should mean life

April Jones' father Paul has told ITV News he feels a life sentence should mean life and today's ruling by the European Court of Human Rights is "gutting".

He says the ECHR shouldn't interfere with the British system of justice.

April Jones' parents Paul and Coral Jones. Credit: Press Association

Mark Bridger was sentenced to a whole life tariff for April's murder on May 30, and under the new ruling would be eligible for review by 2048, when he would be 83 years old.

Bamber solicitor to lodge application for case review

Simon McKay says his client Jeremy Bamber is no longer "consigned to the prospect of spending his whole life in jail" but today's ruling will not result in his immediate release.

My client is obviously pleased with today's decision although it will not result in his release imminently or anytime soon. But it does mean he is not consigned to the prospect of spending his whole life in jail, effectively a death sentence by another name. A civilised society is defined by how it treats those who act outside its laws and that the UK will now be obligated to review whole life tariffs is a progressive and humane development.

Those properly convicted of dreadful crimes must be punished but there must also be the hope of rehabilitation in appropriate cases. Jeremy continues to protest his innocence and later this year I will be lodging a fresh application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. His 30 year fight for justice continues.

– Jeremy Bamber's solicitor Simon McKay


PM 'very disappointed' by Jeremy Bamber ruling

Prime Minister David Cameron. Credit: Will Oliver/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Downing Street said that David Cameron was "very, very disappointed" at the ruling over the life terms of Jeremy Bamber, Douglas Vinter and Peter Moore.

"He profoundly disagrees with the court's ruling. He is a strong supporter of whole life tariffs," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

Bamber: Court decision is in many ways hollow

A statement from Jeremy Bamber, who maintains his innocence to this day, has appeared on his blog, following today's European Court of Human Rights ruling.

It read: "I am the only person in the UK who was retrospectively given a life tariff on a majority verdict that maintains innocence.

"The verdict today seems in so many ways to be hollow, as I am still serving a prison sentence for a crime I did not commit.

Jeremy Bamber was jailed for life for the murder of five members of his family. Credit: Andrew Hunter/PA Wire

"My whole life order has now been given a system of reviews, but there is no provision for someone who is wrongly convicted to prove that they are worthy of release, such hope is in reality, no hope at all.

"Reviews and parole hearings are subject to a risk assessment to gauge dangerousness and this is influenced by the inmate's confession, remorse and rehabilitation for reintegration back into the community. In my case I do not fit the criteria for parole on this basis.

"The justice system, despite the investment in the Criminal Cases Review Commission, still refuses to accept that there are prisoners who are innocent of the crimes they have been convicted of and this comes into conflict with sentence reviews.

"While there are some people who have been released at the end of their sentence and still maintained innocence, such as Eddie Gilfoyle and Susan May, it is unlikely I would ever be released without my conviction being overturned...Simply because of the high profile nature of my case.

"As is always, the law does not apply if it assists me in anyway."

Life term ruling won't be used as 'get out of jail' excuse

Douglas Vinter's lawyer Simon Creighton has said the European Court of Human Rights' ruling could not be used as a "get out of jail free" excuse for life-term prisoners.

It's very important the court have recognised that no sentence should be once and for all and there should always be some right to look at some sentences again in the future.

They have not said that anyone must be released, what they have said is that it must be reviewed.

– Douglas Vinter's lawyer Simon Creighton

Mr Creighton said the court is telling the Government to return to what it was doing 10 years ago. He said there were "very careful" safeguards in place which must be passed before prisoners can even be considered for release.

"It's now for the Government to respond," Mr Creighton said.

"My client will look forward to their response with interest."

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