Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Longer sentences for hate murders

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has signalled longer jail terms for those convicted of murders motivated by hate

Murderers motivated by hostility towards disabled or transgender victims will face life sentences with a starting point of 30 years, the Justice Secretary has said.

Kenneth Clarke doubled the length of sentence which judges use to calculate the minimum term offenders must serve behind bars, saying hate crimes were abhorrent.

Killers "should be in no doubt that they face a more severe sentence for these unacceptable crimes", he said.

The 30-year starting point brings murders motivated by hate towards disabled or transgender victims in line with those motivated by race, religion, or sexual orientation.

It comes after Leon Fyle, 23, was jailed for life in September at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London for the murder of Destiny Lauren, a pre-operative transgender prostitute.

Fyle, who was convicted after a retrial, was told he must serve 21 years behind bars before being considered for release.

Mr Clarke said: "Hate crimes are abhorrent, they leave sections of society living in fear and at risk of unprovoked violence. The courts already treat all hate crime seriously and aggravate sentences accordingly.

"These proposals make clear offenders should be in no doubt that they face a more severe sentence for these unacceptable crimes."

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said there was "no excuse for any form of hate crime" and the moves would "send out a strong message to victims and perpetrators" that they will face "the full force of the law".

Her comments came as she announced the first national strategy to promote transgender equality. Some 70% of children who are uncertain about their gender are subject to bullying, while 88% of transgender employees experience discrimination or harassment in their workplace, the Home Office said.

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