This paragraph is especially promising! Yesterday, upholding the sentences, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said “loss of a precious human life” should be given “greater weight” by the courts in future.
About time too!
Banker killers' sentences upheld
19 December 2009 07:53
The country's top judge has signalled tougher sentencing in 'one-punch manslaughter' cases as he upheld the sentences of two brothers jailed for beating a wealthy banker to death in Norwich city centre.
Brothers Ben Cowles, 21, and his brother Tom, 22, yesterday lost their appeal against the sentences they received for the manslaughter of Frank McGarahan.
The pair, both of Beaumont Road, Costessey, were sent to prison in June after being convicted for the attack on the father of two in Guildhall Hill.
The younger of the two was jailed for seven-and-a-half years and his brother for seven years after admitting killing the 45-year-old chief executive of Barclays Wealth in September 2008.
Yesterday, upholding the sentences, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said “loss of a precious human life” should be given “greater weight” by the courts in future.
He said: “The death of Frank McGarahan is remote from, and has nothing whatsoever to do with, a 'one-punch manslaughter' case.
“He was attacked, as his brother and cousin were attacked, because they stepped forward in order to intervene and avoid an unpleasant incident becoming worse. Neither he, nor they, were looking for trouble.
“These sentences were certainly not wrong in principle, and they were not excessive.”
The Cowles brothers' lawyers had claimed that the prison terms were “manifestly excessive”, given their youth, good character and guilty pleas.
Their case was one of three cases dealt with this week by the Court of Appeal, setting out sentencing guidelines for when somebody has died from street violence. The sentences in two other cases in Norwich Wales and Cleveland were increased.
Mr McGarahan, from Hertfordshire, was killed after he tried to help a Lithuanian man, Robertas Sinkevicius, being attacked by a gang. He was waiting for a taxi with his brother and cousin after a night out before a family christening.
He and his party intervened after witnessing the attack on the man.
A second fight then started, during which Mr McGarahan was put in a headlock and punched repeatedly. He died the next day.
During the trial, Norwich Crown Court was shown CCTV footage of him collapsing after being repeatedly punched by the brothers.
After the sentencing, Mr McGarahan's brother Tony denounced the prison terms as “disgracefully low” and called for an urgent review of homicide cases to allow judges to reflect the horror of some incidents.
The Appeal Court's decision was yesterday welcomed.
Det Chief Insp Chris Hobley, of Norfolk police, said: “We are satisfied with the result and hope that it will bring some closure for the family and allow them to move on.”
A Victim Support spokesman said: “The Lord Chief Justice is absolutely right. These horrific crimes should be taken extremely seriously. But bereaved people also need more support, which is why we are developing a new homicide service to offer greater help.”
Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC, said: “We welcome the court's conclusion that cases which have often been referred to as 'one punch manslaughter' are often nothing of the sort.
“If there is anyone who does not know that if you punch someone they may fall over, strike their head and then die, we should do everything possible to enlighten that person. Sentences for manslaughter deaths will be dealt with differently in future.”
Simon Nicholls, the brothers' solicitor, however, said he was “disappointed” with the outcome of the appeal.
He said: “I'm disappointed in one sense because I looked after these two young men right from the time they were arrested and they always accepted what they had done, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the very first opportunity and always indicated they were prepared to plead guilty to manslaughter and I had hoped that perhaps the sentence could've been reduced a little bit.”
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