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Tougher sentences for killers with a history of coercive behaviour

The Government has proposed that judges should be able to consider factors including coercive behaviour and extreme violence as aggravating factors when handing down sentences for murder.

However, campaigners say the Government has not gone far enough and are calling for a 25-year minimum period of imprisonment for people convicted of murder.

The Government is due to respond fully to this in the summer with legislation being introduced as soon as possible following the response.

Sentencing guidelines for manslaughter when linked to ‘rough sex’ will also be reviewed.

Coercive or controlling behaviour became an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015. It includes emotional, psychological, or economic abuse and threats as well as sexual and physical violence.

Carole Gould, whose daughter was killed by an ex-partner in 2019, has said that she believes 25-year starting sentences are needed where killers have inflicted injuries more than were needed to kill their victims (known as overkill).

Her daughter, Ellie Gould was strangled and stabbed 13 times but the murderer, Thomas Griffiths – who was 17 at the time – was only jailed for 12 and a half years.

Patrick Ryan, chief executive of Hestia, the domestic abuse support service, has welcomed this recognition of varying forms of abuse: “Survivors often tell us that they have endured years of abuse before physical violence escalates and it’s right that we take this into account when sentencing.”

Laura Farris, Conservative MP said she was “delighted” by the news that sexually motivated manslaughter guidelines will be reviewed.

“The last few years have seen some appalling cases where men have received derisory sentences for brutal killings including strangulation. The announcement recognises the gendered nature of these crimes, and the fact they are often part of wider patterns of domestic abuse.”

Have you been accused of committing a crime? We help clients through all stages of the criminal justice process. For advice and representation, get in touch with our expert team today.


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