William Spence – Hammer Murder

William Spence

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.

This entry was posted in In the news on by .

About Dan Bunting

I'm a lawyer who works for myself. Legal geek, maths freak, general dullard and jack of all trades. Here’s a few views on law and occasional musings on life. Usual caveats about not relying on anything I say etc applies.

6 thoughts on “William Spence – Hammer Murder

  1. Extreme Right Wing American Nut Job

    I wonder if Mr. Jones or his mother had been allowed to possess a fire arm whether the outcome would have been different.

  2. Dan Bunting Post author

    Your username is interesting?! The outcome probably would have been different – both Mr Jones and his mother would have died.

    I guess that the UK and the US have just gone different ways in relation to the Second Amendment. It’s a difficult question, I certainly think that our gun laws are far too tough, but I’m not sure if a general right to self-defence should permit a liberalisation.

    1. Extreme Right Wing American Nut Job

      Username: Well, isn’t that what all gun ownership advocates are? ;-)

      If Mr. Jones or his mother possessed a fire arm, as well as the proper training on the use of the fire arm, they might’ve had a sporting chance against the attacker. It’s a pity the government does not believe they have a right to defend themselves against criminal attack. There will always be people hell-bent on murder. It’s already illegal to murder someone, but that doesn’t seem to stop them. At least give their potential victims the opportunity to fight back, rather than lie down and let it happen.

      1. Lyndon Harris

        Isn’t the other side of that argument that although it becomes easier (so you say) to defend oneself (you may think that many victims would not purchase, carry etc. a firearm in any case), it becomes far easier to kill people?

  3. Extreme Right Wing American Nut Job

    Sure, many people would not buy, carry, etc., a firearm in any case, but why shouldn’t those who wish to defend themselves do so? I don’t think it becomes far easier to kill people. Law abiding gun owners are just that: law abiding. They’ve obtained the proper permits and training. They do not seek out opportunities to use their guns, unless it is target practice at the shooting range. They pray they will never have to use their guns in any other manner.

    As I said, there will always be those who are hell-bent on murder. They’ll find a way, if they are motivated enough. But when that hammer-wielding thug shows up at a gun owner’s door, he will be prepared to defend himself and his family. And I guarantee he is more motivated than the thug.

    If enough bad guys use hammers for murder, will the UK ban hammers?

    1. Dan Bunting Post author

      Law abiding gun owners are law abiding until they use their guns for an unlawful purpose (which happens a lot). We know all the stats, and it’s pretty clear that the US is an outlier in terms of gun deaths which is due, in part, to the high level of gun ownerships.

      The difference wiht hammers of course is that they are far less lethal. In the UK, the case of Lisa Potts and, more recently in China, are good examples of brutal attacks that left no-one dead. Had either of those people had access to guns, many people would have died.

      Having said that, it’s a difficult balance to strike the right of an individual to what they want provided they don’t harm others with the problem of the inevitable harm caused by guns. I suspect that the proper answer lies somewhere between the current position in the UK and in the US post-Heller and McDonald.


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