Melanie Smith sentenced for murder – 30 year tariff

We covered the case of Melanie Smith last week after her conviction of the murder of five members of the same family. She was sentenced on 8th May 2013.

The only sentence that can be passed for murder is life imprisonment. The Judge did have to determine the ‘tariff’, the period of time that Ms Smith had to serve before the Parole Board could consider her case and see if she could safely be released (see here for an overview of how tariffs are calculated).

We do have the sentencing remarks of the Judge (Griffith Williams J) who had presided over the trial. Whilst it was the jury who decided (in this case on a 10-2 majority), they play no part in the sentence. It is worth reading the remarks to understand why the tariff was set as it was.

Briefly, however, the starting point for more than one murder is 30 years. The Judge would then have to balance the aggravating and mitigating features. Here, the fact that there were five, rather than two, deaths is the main aggravating feature. The Judge decided that this cancelled out the mitigating factors – the fact that Ms Smith had not been in trouble before and that this was impulsive.

In all the circumstances, this seems to have been a just approach and there is unlikely to be any appeal. As was mentioned in the comments on the previous story, this is not so obviously a case of murder (as opposed to manslaughter). It is likely that there will be an appeal against conviction and this should become clearer if any when that is heard.

 

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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.

3 thoughts on “Melanie Smith sentenced for murder – 30 year tariff

  1. Andrew

    It’s apparent when you read the sentencing remarks that the judge could not quite “get his head round” this case and I share his bewilderment. Female crime is much rarer than male crime, and female violent crime especially so; the defendant’s age and gender add up to make this a very strange – and of course tragic case. Just how does anyone get to this?

    Reply
    1. Dan Bunting Post author

      I also share your bewilderment. Very strange. If there is an appeal against conviction (and I imagine that there would be) hopefully more details will come out as to exactly why (albeit that we may never fully understand, I imagine that Ms Smith may well not know).

      Reply
  2. steve

    Melanie Smith did not start that fire and with lack of evadence should have been found not guilty !!!! whole case stinks

    Reply

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