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Judges increase jail terms for violence which results in death on the streets.

TOP judges yesterday increased sentences handed out to three men, including two from Wales, jailed over deaths resulting from gratuitous and unprovoked violence in the street in what was described as a "landmark" ruling.

Issuing fresh sentencing guidelines in manslaughter cases, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting at the Court of Appeal in London with four other judges, agreed with the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, that their original terms were "unduly lenient".

He sent out the message that acts of violence which resulted in death should be "treated more seriously" and that specific attention must now be given to the consequences of a defendant's actions.

Lord Judge said an "additional feature of manslaughter cases which has come to be seen as a significant aggravating feature of any such case is the public impact of violence on the streets, whether in city centres or residential areas."

The cases the court had reviewed "involved such public violence".

He added: "Specific attention should be paid to the problem of gratuitous violence in city centres and the streets." Lord Judge said: "The manslaughter cases with which we are concerned involved gratuitous, unprovoked violence in the streets of the kind which seriously discourages law-abiding citizens from walking their streets, particularly at night, and gives the city and town centres over to the kind of drunken yobbery with which we have become familiar, and a worried perception among decent citizens that it is not safe to walk the streets at night."

The judges increased the sentence for manslaughter imposed on Thomas Bryan, 46, of Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, from three to five years, and his co-accused Peter Roberts, 37, of Llandudno, had his sentence raised from 18 months to three-and-a-half years.

In another case they upped the minimum term to be served by Declan Appleby, 19, of Redcar, Cleveland, who was convicted of murder, from six years to nine years.

Lord Judge said of his co-accused, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years detention, that it may be he was "fortunate in that sentence imposed on him".

He added: "It may be that with the guidance offered in this judgement, the judge would have imposed a longer sentence on him."

Ruling in a third case, the judges dismissed sentence appeals by brothers Tom Cowles, 22, and Ben Cowles, 21, of Costessey, near Norwich, who admitted the manslaughter of a banker who died after trying to help a homeless man and were jailed for seven years and seven years six months respectively.

Lord Judge said the three cases, which were heard together, provided the court "with the opportunity to reconsider the approach to sentencing in cases of manslaughter when, notwithstanding that the defendant intended neither to kill nor to cause the deceased grievous bodily harm, he is convicted of manslaughter on the basis that the death was consequent on an act of unlawful violence."

The Attorney General welcomed the ruling and said sentences for manslaughter deaths will be dealt with differently in future.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 19, 2009
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