William Spence was sentenced for muder on 17th December. It was a brutal hammer attack where he killed his friend (Kevin Jones) and injured Mr Jones’ mother who was trying to protect her son. It was not clear what the motive (if any) for the murder was. The tariff was set at 17 years – why?
There are no sentencing remarks publicly available as yet (a common theme). We have a press release from the police, but this sheds little light on the matter. Our guide to sentencing for murder cases is here. There were no features to take this into any of the higher brackets, so a starting point of 15 years would be appropriate.
It seems that Mr Spence took the hammer to the scene which shows an element of pre-meditation (although had it been a knife this would have lead to a starting point of 25 years rather than 15 years – does that make sense?). There was a trial, so there could not be credit for a guilty plea. Other than that, we are in the dark as to the motive for the attack and whether Mr Spence had any previous convictions.
The tariff is two years higher than the starting point. On the face of it, the frenzied nature of the attack, coupled with the fact that there should be an increase in the starting point in light of the attack on Mr Jones mother, this more than explains the increase.
An appeal seems unlikely in those circumstances (although it could be said that Mr Spence has little to lose, so he may do), but at least if there is one then the public could find out more as to why the sentence was imposed.