Harper’s law, finally.

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imlikeahermit
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#1
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PC Andrew Harper’s widow has finally won her battle to get Harper’s law to the commons, backed now by the government. It would give mandatory life sentences to the murderers of emergency services staff.

Of course this doesn’t change the absolutely embarrassing sentences given out to the low life’s who murdered this man, but still, a step in the right direction from a government that have thus far been indifferent to crime and punishment.
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Crazed cat lady
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We are going to have mandatory life sentences for manslaughter regardless of the culpability of those responsible simply because of the victim's chosen profession?

It rides rough-shod through several important legal principles but a perfect populist policy to back for the Conservatives who want to distract the masses from how they are screwing them over and taking their hard earned pay. Modern day bread and circuses.
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Djtoodles
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(Original post by Crazed cat lady)
We are going to have mandatory life sentences for manslaughter regardless of the culpability of those responsible simply because of the victim's chosen profession?

It rides rough-shod through several important legal principles but a perfect populist policy to back for the Conservatives who want to distract the masses from how they are screwing them over and taking their hard earned pay. Modern day bread and circuses.
Calling what happened to him manslaughter is a bit of a joke in my opinion.
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imlikeahermit
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(Original post by Crazed cat lady)
We are going to have mandatory life sentences for manslaughter regardless of the culpability of those responsible simply because of the victim's chosen profession?

It rides rough-shod through several important legal principles but a perfect populist policy to back for the Conservatives who want to distract the masses from how they are screwing them over and taking their hard earned pay. Modern day bread and circuses.
Unusual to see the left siding with the criminals. Oh wait.
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Crazed cat lady
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(Original post by imlikeahermit)
Unusual to see the left siding with the criminals. Oh wait.
I can't imagine the mental gymnastics you went through to reach that conclusion.

Need I remind you that you were until recently a member of The Conservative Party? Conservative Party members and voters are responsible for creating the government and consistently endorsing that government at ballot box that, as you view it, are indifferent to crime and punishment.

Shall we talk about how you have supported a government that has actively defunded the police over the last decade? We've seen the number of police officer numbers fall by 21,000. That sounds like siding with criminals to me.
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DSilva
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Why just for emergency workers? Why are their lives worth more than others?

If you kill a cleaner for example, why should you receive a lighter sentence than if you kill a firefighter?
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DSilva
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(Original post by Djtoodles)
Calling what happened to him manslaughter is a bit of a joke in my opinion.
The state failed to convince the jury that it was murder. That's about it.
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imlikeahermit
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(Original post by DSilva)
Why just for emergency workers? Why are their lives worth more than others?

If you kill a cleaner for example, why should you receive a lighter sentence than if you kill a firefighter?
For what it’s worth I don’t disagree with this sentiment. I’m all for life sentences for all killers.
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imlikeahermit
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(Original post by DSilva)
The state failed to convince the jury that it was murder. That's about it.
I see it as, convicted of manslaughter, guilty of murder. In my opinion of course.
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TCA2b
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I don't think they should be discriminating based on profession when sentencing, in this way - don't see why the victim's vocation should matter. Harsher sentencing for violent criminals in general I can agree with.
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DSilva
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(Original post by TCA2b)
I don't think they should be discriminating based on profession when sentencing, in this way - don't see why the victim's vocation should matter. Harsher sentencing for violent criminals in general I can agree with.
A rare point of agreement between us!
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by DSilva)
Why just for emergency workers? Why are their lives worth more than others?

If you kill a cleaner for example, why should you receive a lighter sentence than if you kill a firefighter?
It will depend on where you clean and who for. The definition of emergency worker is proposed to be that in section 67 of the Sentencing Act 2020. Therefore it includes:-

"a person employed for the purposes of providing, or engaged to provide—

(i)NHS health services, or

(ii)services in the support of the provision of NHS health services,

and whose general activities in doing so involve face to face interaction with individuals receiving the services or with other members of the public."

So if you work in the NHS and clean operating theatres or consultants' offices you are unlikely to be covered by the new law but if you clean wards or reception areas you probably will.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by DSilva)
The state failed to convince the jury that it was murder. That's about it.
In reality I don't think a murder conviction was ever truly on.

Could a jury be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that they intend to kill Harper rather than say, shake him loose. Could a jury be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that they intended to cause really really serious harm to Harper rather than say shake him loose. The answer to that has to be "no"; the defendants were indifferent to whether Harper lived or died.

The jury coud also get to a verdict of guilty of murder if they considered beyond reasonable doubt that death or really serious harm was virtually certain and the defendants were aware of that. I don't think there was any chance of that, in the case of death.

So to convict, a jury has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was virtually certain that Harper would suffer really serious harm and the Defendants knew that. That is a very tough ask for a jury, because the defendants didn't know that he was involuntarily attatched to the car.
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nulli tertius
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The fundamental problem in the Harper case is the continuing unwillingness of the courts to hand out life sentences to defendants convicted of crimes carrying a discretionary life sentence. As the AG said when seeking an increase in sentence; if not Harper's case, then when?

None of the people smugglers, who for profit put 39 Vietnamese in a locked container which they knew was airtight and with no means of contacting the gang, received a life sentence for manslaughter either.
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DSilva
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
In reality I don't think a murder conviction was ever truly on.

Could a jury be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that they intend to kill Harper rather than say, shake him loose. Could a jury be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that they intended to cause really really serious harm to Harper rather than say shake him loose. The answer to that has to be "no"; the defendants were indifferent to whether Harper lived or died.

The jury coud also get to a verdict of guilty of murder if they considered beyond reasonable doubt that death or really serious harm was virtually certain and the defendants were aware of that. I don't think there was any chance of that, in the case of death.

So to convict, a jury has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was virtually certain that Harper would suffer really serious harm and the Defendants knew that. That is a very tough ask for a jury, because the defendants didn't know that he was involuntarily attatched to the car.
Very clear explanation.
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DSilva
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
The fundamental problem in the Harper case is the continuing unwillingness of the courts to hand out life sentences to defendants convicted of crimes carrying a discretionary life sentence. As the AG said when seeking an increase in sentence; if not Harper's case, then when?

None of the people smugglers, who for profit put 39 Vietnamese in a locked container which they knew was airtight and with no means of contacting the gang, received a life sentence for manslaughter either.
Didn't the AG get slapped down from the courts for arguing that the judge not only should have gone outside the sentencing guidelines but that he was actively required to do so?
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by DSilva)
Didn't the AG get slapped down from the courts for arguing that the judge not only should have gone outside the sentencing guidelines but that he was actively required to do so?
Yes.

There is a clear problem with the guidance. The sentencing range for the most serious cases of unlawful act manslaughter is 11-24 years with a starting point of 18 years. The most serious cases of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility have a range of 15-40 years with a starting point of 24.years.

There are provisions under the Criminal Justice Act for sentencing certain "dangerous" offenders to life sentences. A life sentence for "dangerousness" can be given, if the criteria are met, regardless of whether the underlying offence carried a life sentence. These "dangerousness" provisions are clearly something independent of the normal length of sentence for an offence. The courts have confirmed that there is still power to hand out discretionary life sentences for offences to which the dangerousness triggers don't apply. An underworld armourer was given a life sentence. His offence carried a maximum life sentence but wasn't one of the offences listed as being within the "dangerousness" regime. He argued on appeal that one could only be give a life sentence where the new "dangerousness" provisions applied. He was told to take a running jump.

Manslaughter is an offence to which the "dangerousness" regime applies. The judge found that "dangerousness" applied to the driver but that he could deal with him by an extended determinate sentence. He found the the dangerousness criteria were not satisfied for the passengers.

The problem is that the sentencing guidance deprives the maximum sentence (a discretionary life sentence) of any effect. There are no circumstances under the guidance when it can be handed out save "dangerousness" and it could be handed out in cases of dangerousness even if the maximum sentence was a lower determinate sentence.

Hence the AG argued that there were cases where the Court had to ignore the guidance. Sentencing guidance wasn't supposed to lower the maximum sentences for offences by creating a no-man's land between the top of the range and the statutory maximum whhere no lawful sentence could be handed out.
Last edited by nulli tertius; 1 week ago
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GodAtum
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
In reality I don't think a murder conviction was ever truly on.

Could a jury be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that they intend to kill Harper rather than say, shake him loose. Could a jury be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that they intended to cause really really serious harm to Harper rather than say shake him loose. The answer to that has to be "no"; the defendants were indifferent to whether Harper lived or died.

The jury coud also get to a verdict of guilty of murder if they considered beyond reasonable doubt that death or really serious harm was virtually certain and the defendants were aware of that. I don't think there was any chance of that, in the case of death.

So to convict, a jury has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was virtually certain that Harper would suffer really serious harm and the Defendants knew that. That is a very tough ask for a jury, because the defendants didn't know that he was involuntarily attatched to the car.
Couldn't the judge hand down a life sentence for manslaughter?
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by GodAtum)
Couldn't the judge hand down a life sentence for manslaughter?
The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment but judges are constrained by binding guidance produced by the Sentencing Council (a body established by Act of Parliament to give such guidance). My post 17 deals with this. There may have been a narrow window to give a life sentence to the driver, but not to the others. It is explained here.

https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA...2020/1729.html

I don't agree with the conclusion.

There is an unspoken factor. The AG argued the appeal herself. She is an inexperienced barrister who did not specialise in criminal law, let alone criminal appeals. In other words it was political grandstanding on her part and the Court of Appeal were very rough with her.. Her deputy, the solicitor general Michael Ellis QC MP was a very experienced criminal barrister and of course the AG could have sent the case to outside counsel. A better barrister arguing the case differently, might have got further and in particular opened the door to a wider use of life sentences in manslaughter cases.
Last edited by nulli tertius; 1 week ago
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looloo2134
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
The fundamental problem in the Harper case is the continuing unwillingness of the courts to hand out life sentences to defendants convicted of crimes carrying a discretionary life sentence. As the AG said when seeking an increase in sentence; if not Harper's case, then when?

None of the people smugglers, who for profit put 39 Vietnamese in a locked container which they knew was airtight and with no means of contacting the gang, received a life sentence for manslaughter either.
I personally would like people smugglers to get life sentences.
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