Adam Whelehan was sentenced to life imprisonment on 25th April 2013 for the murder of his girlfriend, Natalie Jarvis. We don’t have the full details of the sentence, but we do know that he was convicted after a trial and the tariff was set at 26 years. An overview of life sentences can be found here.
The murder appears to have been a brutal one – he stabbed Ms Jarvis 19 times in the neck. The motive is not clear, but appears to have been “in order to end their relationship”. At his trial, he claimed that he was acting in self-defence, but this was obviously rejected by the jury. This meant that he could not get any credit for pleading guilty.
Why 26 years? The answer must be because he took a knife to the scene of the murder with the intention of using it. This causes the starting point to jump from 15 years (which it would otherwise have been) to 25 years. The extra year may be because of the brutality of the attack.
Was the sentence right? It is hard to say without fuller details, but it is likely that there will be an appeal (more details about how appeals work can be found here), not least because there is nothing to lose. One question that does arise is whether there should be such a steep jump from 15 to 25 years (the equivalent of a 20 year prison sentence at least) just because the murderer carried a knife with him?
As always, it should be remembered that this is a minimum tariff of 26 years. This does not mean that he will be released after 26 years, just that after 26 years he can apply to the Parole Board to be released, there is no guarantees. He won’t be released after that until it is safe to do so.