'Kitchen-knife killers' and abusers could face tougher sentences under government plans

Moves to toughen sentences have been welcomed by campaigners who saw their daughters murdered by someone they knew - ITV News' Aisha Zahid reports

Killers who subjected their victims to coercive and controlling domestic abuse could face tougher sentences under government plans.

Ministers will also consider whether the minimum term of punishment should be raised for murderers who used a knife or another weapon that was already at the crime scene to kill.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said a public consultation to consider the plans has now been launched after the proposals were announced earlier this year.

It comes after mothers whose daughters were murdered by their ex-partners using kitchen knives found at their homes called for a hike in the starting points of such killers’ jail terms.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said he had asked more judges to be appointed to the First-tier and Upper Tribunal Credit: Lucy North/PA

Mr Chalk said: “It is shocking that around one in four murders are committed by a current or former partner, or relative.

"This government has already gone further than ever to protect women and girls, with tough new protection orders plus laws to ensure abusers and killers spend longer behind bars.

"To make sure sentencing policy is meeting the threat, it is right to review this complex landscape so that the scourge of violence against women is tackled as coherently and effectively as possible."

Every year around 90 people – most of which are women – are killed by their current or ex-partner and the majority of the murders take place at home.

When a weapon is used, it is often a kitchen knife and it is already at the scene, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

Under current sentencing powers, the starting point for a prison term for murders where a weapon is taken to the scene is 25 years.

But a threshold of up to 10 years lower normally applies to killings involving a weapon already at the scene.

Ellie Gould, 17, was stabbed to death at her home in Calne, Wiltshire, in 2019 by boyfriend Thomas Griffiths after she ended their relationship before he rearranged the scene to make it look like she inflicted the fatal wounds herself.

He was jailed for a minimum of 12 years and six months.

Ellie’s mother Carole Gould co-founded organisation Killed Women to campaign on the issue alongside Julie Devey, whose daughter Poppy Devey Waterhouse was murdered by ex-partner Joe Atkinson in Leeds in 2018 after he failed to come to terms the end of their three-year relationship.

He was jailed for a minimum of 15 years and 310 days after stabbing her 23 times and inflicting more than 100 injuries overall.

Plans to change the law also follow recommendations made by Clare Wade KC in an independent review into domestic homicide sentencing.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...