Today in Parliament I asked a question to the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees Mogg about tougher sentencing for the most violent criminals. I explained to him the sad case of Richard Day who was killed in Ipswich last year. His killer, Andrea Cristea was found guilty of manslaughter having punched Richard in the neck and kicked him while he was down. As Richard lay dying Andrea was seen standing over the body laughing and he also went though his pockets. He was only sentenced to four years in prison and with automatic halfway release and time spent on remand he will only serve a total of ten months behind bars. This has been a huge blow for Richard’s family and for the whole of Ipswich who have been rightly outraged by both the crime and the sentence. I explained that my constituents are furious that justice has not been done, and there is also a question about the public safety of my constituents if he is back out on the streets of Ipswich. I asked him if the Government would find time for us to debate sentences such as these and what we can do to restore the trust of the British people in our criminal justice system?
Jacob Rees-Mogg addressed the deeply troubling case. He said that the sadness for Mr Day’s family and the burden that they will carry all their lives is one of unimaginable distress. It is hard in these circumstances to go through the reassurances about the Government taking tackling crime seriously, which of course they do. He acknowledged that this is where general national policy meets the individual circumstance, and it is so important that, in the individual circumstance, the right, appropriate and just sentence is passed.
He said that Parliament gives the power to the courts to do this, and the maximum penalty for manslaughter is a life sentence. Ultimately, however there is the problem with Cristea’s age which meant that he was given a much lighter sentence. But I really think that this should be looked at. It makes no sense why a 16 year old should be treated the same as a 12 year old. Ultimately his sentence should have been far far tougher than it was.
Jacob Rees-Mogg acknowledged that we have independent courts, but it would be wrong to pretend that our courts always get the individual judgments right and so it is therefore quite proper for people to seek redress for the grievances of their constituents and to raise these matters in the House so that the judiciary may know what concern there is when light sentences are passed on people who, by a violent murder, have destroyed the happiness of a family.
I have written to the Attorney General in the hope that he will review the sentence handed down to Andrea Cristea and I will continue to raise the matter in the House to see what can be done to get Justice for Richard’s family.