We looked at the case of Susan and Christopher Edwards who were convicted of the murder of Ms Edwards mother and father (Patricia and William Wycherley) on Friday. A life sentence was guaranteed – we predicted a tariff of 22-25 years how did we do?
Well. The actual tariff was set at 25 years when sentence was passed on 23rd June 2014.
The murders date from 1998 when (probably) Mr Edwards killed Ms Edwards’ parents at her instigation. They buried the bodies in the back garden and then started on a sophisticated series of frauds.
This was started by taking £40,000 out of the Wycherley’s bank accounts the day after the murders. Since that date the Edwards pretended that the Wycherleys were alive and well and living in (variously) Ireland, Blackpool and Morecambe in order to collect a further £245,000.
Most of this money seems to have gone on, bizarrely, celebrity memorabilia. They gave themselves up last year after having run out of money. At that point, they stated that the bodies were in the back garden, which were duly found.
We have the sentencing remarks which, as always, repay reading. We have to say that the single thing that would help the public understanding of the criminal justice system is more publication of what happens in Court.
Anyway, the Judge sets out clearly what the starting point was – in this 14 years because of the time that they were committed. She states that it was a planned and premeditated murder, done for gain and carried out with a firearm (although the latter was not of such concern in 1998). The Judge accepted that the animosity from Ms Edwards to her father stemmed from the fact that he had sexually abused her, however it could not be said that that was the cause of the murder.
The tariff was increased by 11 years to 25 years to reflect all the aggravating features.
As we said last week, the starting point now would be over 30 years. Given that this offence pre-dates the huge increases in sentencing introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, a much reduced term would be expected.
The tariff set was at the top end of what we had suggested. Reading the sentencing remarks, it is a very strange and sad case, and presents a somewhat more mitigation than seemed at first sight. For that reason, we would have thought that a tariff of 20 years would have been more than sufficient.
For the reasons previously stated, we would have thought that whilst there will be an appeal, we would not expect it to be successful.