Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Baby killer sentence to be reviewed

Michael John Pearce was jailed for nine years at Newport Crown Court (Gwent Police/PA)

A nine-year jail term given to a baby killer will be reviewed by the Court of Appeal amid complaints the sentence was not long enough.

Michael John Pearce, 33, was convicted of the manslaughter of his former girlfriend's six-week-old son Alfie Sullock at Newport Crown Court last month.

But the motorcycle mechanic was cleared of murder - an offence which carries a mandatory life sentence, albeit with a judge setting a minimum term.

The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland, today referred the sentence handed down to Pearce to the Court of Appeal as potentially unduly lenient.

The move means that three appeal court judges will now consider whether the sentence is too short, and could increase the jail term.

Divorcee Pearce was told by a judge he could expect to serve half a custodial term in prison with the remainder on licence. Given that Pearce spent about a year on remand while awaiting trial, it means he could be released from prison by early 2018.

The case is expected to be heard at London's Court of Appeal within six weeks.

The attorney general's office confirmed earlier this month that it had received about 10 complaints about the sentence.

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