Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Murderer in 'whole life' appeal

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said he 'profoundly' disagreed with the European Court of Human Rights ruling

A multiple murderer has become the first Briton to launch an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights over a "whole life" tariff handed down by English judges.

Arthur Hutchinson, jailed for stabbing a wealthy couple to death after breaking into their home on the night of their daughter's wedding, then killing one of their sons and repeatedly raping another wedding guest, has launched the appeal to Strasbourg after the court ruled last month it was "inhuman and degrading" for prisoners to face death in jail.

The initial case was brought following an appeal by three killers including Jeremy Bamber, who shot dead five members of his family in 1985. Some 49 prisoners are currently in British jails serving whole life tariffs.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: "I have repeatedly made clear how profoundly I disagree with the recent ruling by the European Court. Our judges should be able to tell those who commit the most heinous crimes imaginable that they may never be released.

"To be told this breaches human rights is absurd - and an insult to those who wrote the original Human Rights Convention. What about the rights of the victims and their families?

"I continue to strongly believe that whole life tariffs are appropriate for the worst murder cases. This is why I want wholesale reforms to our human rights laws."

The Daily Telegraph reported the Government has been asked to provide a full response to Hutchinson's claim and could face a full hearing next year.

The newspaper said if the claim was backed, 73-year-old Hutchinson could be released from prison.

Five years ago, Hutchinson had a domestic appeal against whole life tariffs kicked out by the Court of Appeal.

The judge at Hutchinson's original 1984 trial at Sheffield Crown Court ruled that he should serve 18 years but then home secretary Leon Brittan later ruled he should face the whole life tariff.