Mark Bridger – Whole Life Tariff

Mark Bridger was sentenced on 30th May 2013 to life imprisonment with a ‘whole life’ tariff for the murder of April Jones. We covered the conviction here.

The sentencing remarks can be found here. An overview of how someone is sentenced for murder is here. Griffith Williams J sets out in his sentencing remarks why a whole life tariff , rather than a length, but determinate, tariff was imposed (such as the 38 year minimum imposed on Stuart Hazell).

The starting point for someone who abducts and murders a child is a whole life tariff. Given that Mr Bridger was convicted of kidnapping April Jones, this is clearly satisfied. In relation to the question of whether the murder had a sexual motivation, the Judge said that “this much is certain – you abducted her for a sexual purpose and then murdered her and disposed of her body to hide the evidence of your sexual abuse of her“. This is an aggravating feature.

Further aggravating features are the fact that the kidnap was premeditated and that the body was concealed.

For all of these reasons, while there may well be an appeal against the whole life order (after all, there is very little for Mr Bridger to lose), it is unlikely to be successful.

One last point, and that relates to the ‘Victim Surcharge‘. Given that April Jones was abducted on 1st October 2012, it would seem that this is a case where the surcharge would apply  (see Art 7(2) Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Surcharge) Order 2012). The Judge should have ordered Mr Bridger to pay £120. This would have been a pointless order given that Mr Bridger will never be released from prison. It may well have been seen as more insulting to have made the order.



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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.

6 thoughts on “Mark Bridger – Whole Life Tariff

  1. Andrew

    The victim surcharge is preposterous in all but a handful of custody cases. I notice that judges sometimes say that “the statutory victim surcharge provision will apply” – but better to do as the judge did here and not mention it.

    You say that Mr Bridger will never be released. I suppose the point may come when the Prison Medical Service cannot cope and (like one of the Krays) he is allowed to end his days in a hospital outside without two prison officers twiddling their thumbs by the bed. Other than that you are right and no loss to the world.

  2. Adam Shire

    The suggestion of the surcharge raises the wider question: should victims of violence against the person have to pay all of the court costs if they have the financial means? While in this case the economic question may in fact be more complex, if his parent-caring siblings were denied the proceeds of his equity in his home (if he had any) due to drawn-out, meticulous proceedings costing a fortune would that be fair on the family as a whole, I think the public would support this out of a sense of who should pay for his conviction. His imprisonment I think we can safely say should for the people that “work the prisons” be (less) but mostly public-funded, (the status quo). However surely the time has come for the legal profession to stop being seen as a drain on resources when seeing through to sentence violent convicted criminals, and recoup full costs from wealthier violent people, perhaps with police costs thrown in against the wealthiest, and least dependent-saddled defendants?

  3. Andrew

    Adam: I assume that in the first line you mean “perpetrators of violence” not “victims of violence”.

    In theory it would be right to make perpetrators pay: but the attempts to make that reality when people have become wealthy through acquisitive crime do not bode well. Most men (and indeed women, remember that other horrible case in Wales recently, but it’s much rarer) sent down for long terms for serious violence have nothing worth the trouble of seizing. I doubt if it would be worth setting up the organisation for the few exceptional cases.

    Don’t forget that if there is any money around the victim (or, alas, the victim’s estate) can sue the perpetrator civilly, so you might be setting up an undesirable competition – the perp can’t pay the same money twice.

  4. Andrew

    In fact the media report that this man lived in a cottage rented for £450 a month – and that many local people want it pulled down,because the child was probably murdered there, which would amount to fining the owner a lot of money for his tenant’s crime. Out of the question: does anybody disagree?

  5. Pingback: Mark Bridger to appeal against sentence | UK Criminal Law Blog

  6. Pingback: Whole Life Tariffs – the saga continues | UK Criminal Law Blog

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