Junior Nkwelle killing – sentencing

On 5th April 2013 two youths; Cherelle McKenzie-Jackson (14) and Marc Tulloch (17) were sent to youth detention (the word for prison for juveniles) for 8 and 10 years respectively for the manslaughter of Junior Nkwelle, a 15 year old boy.

We covered the conviction here which contains the background facts. What to make of the sentence?

Firstly, we don’t have the sentencing remarks, so there is an element of speculation in this. There are no sentencing guidelines for this form of Manslaughter (by reason of lack of intent), but guidance can be obtained by a combination of the guidance for murder with the Sentencing Guidelines Council Guidance for Manslaughter by Reason of Provocation.

The Court of Appeal has given guidance in a variety of cases. The most helpful are the cases of Appleby [2009] EWCA Crim 693 or Thornley [2011] EWCA Crim 153. These indicate that there is a wide range of ways in which someone can be guilty of Manslaughter which is reflected in a wide sentencing range. It does also indicate that sentences should be higher than previously given. Further, given the concern about knives, this will be a significant aggravating feature.

Pulling this together, we would suggest that a sentence in the region of 12-15 years would be appropriate for an adult. Here, they were both youths, which explains the reduction from that. It seems that Cherelle played a larger role, but her very young age would more than account for that and lead to a lower sentence.

We will revisit this in light of the sentencing remarks – if they are ever published. It is likely that there will be an appeal, not least because of the lack of guidelines. Whilst the sentences seem, to me at least, to be too long given their age and the fact that there was no intention to kill or cause really serious harm, it would not be a surprise if any appeal is unsuccessful given the current climate relating to knife crime.


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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.

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