We looked yesterday, 27th November 2013, at the case of Anxiang Du who was convicted of the murder of all four members of the Ding family. He was sentenced today.
Mr Du received a 40 year tariff. This is what we predicted as the correct sentence. We suggested that the starting point was 30 years, but should be increased by 10 years to reflect the fact that four people were killed, the motivation, and the brutal nature of the murder.
We now have the sentencing remarks. We can see that the Judge said “these were cold-blooded murders which in my judgment were premeditated and were considered acts of revenge in which you wiped out the entire family. The Judge accepted that Mr Du had ‘moderate depression’, but found that this did not make any difference to his culpability.
The Judge also noted that there were many aggravating features – that there were four murders, there was premeditation,there was a knife taken to the scene and at least two of the victims (the two daughters) were ‘particularly vulnerable’. There were none of the mitigating factors present.
For those reasons, and notwithstanding his age,the Judge set the tariff at 40 years.
Why no whole life tariff?
In deciding that a whole life tariff should not be imposed, the Judge looked at two factors. Firstly, ‘Having reflected on all the features of this case and without in any way underestimating its gravity, it does seem to me that this is not a case in which a whole life order is appropriate, although for reasons I will come to a lengthy minimum term clearly is appropriate.‘
Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, he said that in agreement with ‘Sweeney J in his recent sentencing remarks in the case of R v McLoughlin, I consider that, in the light of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Vinter and others on 9 July 2013, particularly at , the passing of a whole life sentence within the current legislative framework, which gives no right of review of such a sentence, is in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.‘
It remains to be seen whether Mr Du will be following Mr McLoughlin to the Court of Appeal having to fight off a whole life tariff. Here, we know that the Judge said that the ‘European’ issue was only one reason not to pass a whole life tariff. It may be that in light of that, Mr Du will escape the Attorney-General’s interest in this one.
As we also noted yesterday, Mr Du will be 94 before he can be considered for release. To that extent, it is effectively a whole life tariff.