Bieber (Aka Coleman) v Regina: CACD 23 Jul 2008

The Court considered whether a whole life sentence under section 269(4) of the 2003 Act was compatible with Article 3. The defendant had been convicted of murdering a policeman and of attempted murder of two others.
Held: The whole life tarriff was quashed. The 2003 Act introduced the possibility of a whole life sentence with the result that a sentenced prisoner might never be released. Although in this case a minimum sentence of 37 years would be substituted, the imposition of such a sentence in appropriate cases need not infringe the defendant’s human rights. Even with such a sentence it was the practice of the Home Secretary to consider the case after twenty five years, and also there was provision under the 1997 Act to allow a reduction in exceptional cases on compassionate grounds. The case of Kafkaris had not established that a whole life sentence was necessarily an infringement: ‘Schedule 21 of the 2003 Act proceeds on the premise that some crimes are so heinous that they justify imprisoning the offender for the rest of his life, however long that may be’.

Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers LCJ, Pitchford, Dobbs JJ
[2008] EWCA Crim 1601, Times 11-Aug-2008, [2009] 1 All ER 295, [2009] 1 WLR 223, [2008] HRLR 43
Criminal Justice Act 2003, European Convention on Human Rights 3, Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 30
England and Wales
CitedKafkaris v Cyprus ECHR 12-Feb-2008
(Grand Chamber) The claimant said that his rights had been infringed by the mandatory imposition of a life sentence after conviction for murder. Only the President could order the release of such a prisoner, either by exercising the power of mercy . .

Cited by:
AdoptedWellington Regina, (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 10-Dec-2008
It was sought to extradite the defendant to face trial for two alleged murders. He now challenged the order for his extradition saying that his treatment in Missouri would amount to inhuman or degrading punishment in that if convicted he would face . .
CitedBamber, Regina v CACD 14-May-2009
The defendant had been convicted in 1986 of the murder of five members of his adoptive family. The judge had initially recommended a minimum term of 25 years. A later judge had suggested a whole life term. The convictions had been upheld in 2002. . .
CitedOakes and Others v Regina CACD 21-Nov-2012
A specially constituted CACD heard sentencing appeals for defendants serving life terms for very grave crimes, and in particular, the judicial assessment of the minimum term to be served by the appellants for the purposes of punishment and . .
CitedVinter And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 9-Jul-2013
(Grand Chamber) The three appellants had each been convicted of exceptionally serious murders, and been sentenced to mandatory life sentences, but with provision that they could not be eligible for early release, making them whole life terms. They . .
CitedVinter, Regina v CACD 25-Jun-2009
The appellant challenged the imposition of a whole life term after his conviction for a serious, second, murder. . .
CitedVinter And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 9-Jul-2013
(Grand Chamber) The appellants had each been convicted of more than one murder and had been sentenced to to whole life terms. They complained that the absence of a possibility of review or remission
The applicants had each been convicted of . .
CitedRegina v McLoughlin; Regina v Newell CACD 18-Feb-2014
In each case the appellant had been convicted of particularly serious murders and had been given whole liife terms. They now appealed saying that such sentences were incompatible with their human rights after the ruling of the ECHR Grand Chamber in . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Sentencing, Human Rights

Leading Case

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.271029