Families back move which could see ‘life meaning life’ for killers

John Johnson in his Ryhope home five years after his son Kevin was killed in Pennywell.'Kevin Johnson
John Johnson in his Ryhope home five years after his son Kevin was killed in Pennywell.'Kevin Johnson
Have your say

A MOVE which could see murderers and other serious offenders given jail terms running into hundreds of years has been welcomed by the families of those killed at the hands of others.

The US-style sentences would get around a ruling by the European Court’s human rights judges which says whole life sentences breach rights because there is no possibility to a “right to review.”

Ministers are considering a change to rules which mean judges in England’s courts can pass terms which will span decades and even hundreds of years in prison.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also added his voice to the calls and said “life should mean life” as his Government consider an alternative to the whole life sentences, which effectively sentence a criminal to die in jail.

As part of an overhaul of the UK’s human rights laws it will be suggested Britain’s Supreme Court has the final say on human rights cases, not the European court.

It may still also be possible for a criminal who is sentenced to a tariff of 100 years to have their sentence reviewed and reduced.

The EU court ruling means at least one multiple murderer has avoided a whole-life sentence.

In England and Wales, there are 49 criminals serving whole life terms in the prison system of England and Wales, including Mark Bridger, 47, who was sentenced to life in prison in May of murdering Welsh schoolgirl April Jones.

He lodged an appeal last month against his whole life term.

John Johnson, 62, and his wife Kath, 63, have campaigned for tougher sentences since their son Kevin, 22, was stabbed to death by Jordan Towers, then 16, Tony Hawkes, then 17, and Dean Curtis, then 18, in Pennywell in May 2007 after the new dad challenged them because they were keeping his baby awake.

They were each sentenced to life and told to serve a minimum of 13, 16 and 17 years in prison before they can apply for parole.

Each has mounted appeals against their sentences.

John, from Ryhope, who helped lead a petition which called for life to mean life signed by 35,000 Wearsiders, said he is “all for” the change.

“This is what we have been after and I’m not just the only one. There are hundreds of families in this country who want life sentences to mean life,” he said.

“But these people get life sentences and then they’re out on licence.

“British law should really be made in Britain, not imposed by the European Court

“Really it undermines the British Government.

“It’s all about money, they would save it if there was a lethal injection, it would save £40,000 a year on keeping them.

“Human rights should be done away with when they get a life sentence.”