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Gross negligence manslaughter sentences to be increased under new guidelines for judges

Jail sentences for people convicted of gross negligence manslaughter are to be increased amid concern that offenders have been getting off too lightly.

Judges are being advised to consider life in prison for the most serious culprits, with a recommendation they serve at least 18-years before being eligible for parole.

It is the first time guidelines have been set out for judges dealing with manslaughter cases, in the hope of ensuring that the punishments reflect the severity of the crimes.

Gross negligence manslaughter, which involves the breach of a duty of care towards a victim, is being considered by investigators examining the Grenfell Tower fire which resulted in the deaths of 72 people.

Prosecutors have also charged Hillsborough match commander, David Duckenfield, with gross negligence manslaughter in connection with the deaths of 95 Liverpool football supporters who died in the 1989 disaster.

Gross negligence manslaughter allegations are being considered as part of the Grenfell investigation

Credit:
AFP

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

Under the new guidelines judges are being offered a range of sentencing options for those convicted which vary from one to 18-years.

Penalties for gross negligence offences are expected to increase, because the advice is to focus more on the blame that should be placed on the offender, rather than the wider circumstances of the case.

It is believed that in the past sentences in these cases have been too low, relative to other offences and the new guidelines are to address that and usher in some consistency.

Justice Minister Rory Stewart said: “Manslaughter is an extremely serious offence, causing immeasurable pain to families who lose their loved ones.

“So it is vital our courts have clear, consistent guidance in these often complex cases – such as when both individuals and employers are involved.

“These guidelines will make sure sentences reflect the severity of the crime, helping protect workers and keep communities safe.”   

Justice minister Rory Stewart has welcomed the new guidelines

Other types of manslaughter covered by the guideline are unlawful act manslaughter, where someone dies after being assaulted but the attacker had no intention to kill or do them serious harm.

There is also manslaughter by reason of loss of control, where the killer would have been guilty of murder but suffered a loss of control, for example from a fear of serious violence.

And manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, where someone has a recognised mental condition that prevents them being convicted of murder.

Sentences for these three types of manslaughter are not expected to increase.

Sentencing Council member Lord Justice Holroyde said: “Manslaughter offences vary hugely – some cases are not far from being an accident, while others may be just short of murder.

“While no sentence can make up for the loss of life, this guideline will help ensure sentencing that properly reflects the culpability of the offender and the unique facts of each case.”

The guideline will come into force in courts on November 1 2018.

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/30/gross-negligence-manslaughter-sentences-increased-new-guidelines/

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