Thynne, Wilson and Gunnell v The United Kingdom: ECHR 25 Oct 1990

The applicants, discretionary life prisoners, complained of a violation on the ground that they were not able to have the continued lawfulness of their detention decided by a court at reasonable intervals throughout their imprisonment.
Held: A discretionary life sentence in English law was composed of a punitive element followed by a security element giving the Secretary of State the responsibility for determining when the public interest permits the prisoner’s release. In these cases the punitive period had expired and the applicants were entitled to judicial control as guaranteed by Article 5(4). The detention of the applicants after the expiry of the punitive periods of their sentences was compared to the VAN DROOGENBROECK and WEEKS cases: the factors of mental instability and dangerousness are susceptible to change over the passage of time and new issues of lawfulness may arise in the course of detention. It follows that at this phase in the execution of their sentences, the applicants are entitled under Article 5(4) to take proceedings to have the lawfulness of their continued detention decided by a court at reasonable intervals and to have the lawfulness of any re-detention determined by a court.


Mr R Ryssdal, P


11787/85, 11978/86, (1990) 13 EHRR 666, 12009/86, [1990] ECHR 29, (1991) 13 EHRR 666


Worldlii, Bailii


European Convention on Human Rights 5(4)


CitedVan Droogenbroeck v Belgium ECHR 24-Jun-1982
The applicant was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for theft. He had a previous convictions and was thought to have a persistent tendency to crime, and was placed at the government’s disposal for 10 years on that ground. This was subject to . .
CitedWeeks v The United Kingdom ECHR 2-Mar-1987
The applicant, aged 17, was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to life imprisonment in the interests of public safety, being considered by the trial judge on appeal to be dangerous.
Held: ‘The court agrees with the Commission and the . .

Cited by:

CitedNeil Grant Murray, Mark James Hartley and Steven Simpson v Her Majesty’s Advocate HCJ 19-Sep-1999
The defendants appealed against sentence. The first and second were youths who had been convicted of a vicious and homophobic murder, and had been sentenced to be detained without limit of time. The third had also been convicted of a savage and . .
CitedO’Neill v Her Majesty’s Advocate HCJ 9-Mar-1999
The appellant pleaded guilty to an assault with a knife upon a stranger. He had a previous conviction for assault causing severe injury and permanent disfigurement, and two previous convictions for inter alia attempted murder and assault. He had . .
CitedAnsari v Her Majesty’s Advocate HCJ 2-May-2003
The applicant assaulted and abducted an innocent passer-by, a young woman of 23, in the streets of Aberdeen and drove her, bound and gagged, to his house in Leith where he stripped her naked and assaulted and raped her. He was sentenced to life . .
CitedMohammadi v Advocate General Scotland HCJ 2-May-2003
The applicant had claimed asylum. His claim had been rejected and an order made for repatriation to Iran. His appeal was lodged two days out of time. He appealed its rejection. The solicitors accepted full responsibility for the delay.
Held: . .
CitedGiles, Regina (on the Application of) v Parole Board and Another HL 31-Jul-2003
The defendant had been sentenced for offences of violence, but an additional period was imposed to protect the public. He had been refused leave for reconsideration of that part of his sentence after he completed the normal segment of his sentence. . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Home Department ex parte H and Others, Regina v Same ex parte Hickey CA 29-Jul-1994
A discretionary life prisoner who had been transferred to a mental hospital is not automatically eligible for a certificate under the section. The right conferred on a discretionary life prisoner by section 34 of the 1991 Act did not extend to those . .
CitedP, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 11-Dec-2003
The applicant was a discretionary life prisoner compulsorily detained in a mental hospital. His tariff had now expired. If not detained under the 1983 Act he would now be entitled to a review. He argued that there should be a joint hearing.
CitedFlynn, Meek, Nicol and McMurray v Her Majesty’s Advocate PC 18-Mar-2004
PC (High Court of Justiciary) The applicants had each been convicted of murder, and complained that the transitional provisions for determining how long should be served under the life sentences infringed their . .
CitedRegina v Parole Board ex parte Smith, Regina v Parole Board ex parte West (Conjoined Appeals) HL 27-Jan-2005
Each defendant challenged the way he had been treated on revocation of his parole licence, saying he should have been given the opportunity to make oral representations.
Held: The prisoners’ appeals were allowed.
Lord Bingham stated: . .
CitedBlackstock v The United Kingdom ECHR 21-Jun-2005
ECHR Judgment (Merits and Just Satisfaction) – Violation of Art. 5-4; Violation of Art. 5-5; Non-pecuniary damage – financial award; Costs and expenses partial award – Convention proceedings.
The claimant . .
MentionedSmith, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 28-Jul-2005
The applicant had, as a child been subject to detention during Her Majesty’s pleasure, the sentence being imposed before 30 November 2000. She argued that that sentence should be subject to periodic review despite the term had been fixed by the Lord . .
CitedSecretary of State for Justice v Walker; Same v James CA 1-Feb-2008
The claimant had been sentenced to a short period of imprisonment but with an indeterminate term until he demonstrated that it was no longer necessary for the protection of the public. He complained that the term having expired, no opportunity had . .
CitedBrooke and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v The Parole Board and Another CA 1-Feb-2008
The claimant prisoner complained that the Parole Board was insufficiently independent of government to provide a fair hearing. The court at first instance had found that the relationship between the Parole Board and the sponsoring Department put the . .
CitedBlack, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice HL 21-Jan-2009
The appellant complained that the system for considering the release of a life prisoner did not comply with the Convention when the decision was made by the Secretary of State and not by the Parole Board, or the court. The Board had recommended his . .
CitedFaulkner, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice and Another SC 1-May-2013
The applicants had each been given a life sentence, but having served the minimum term had been due to have the continued detention reviewed to establish whether or not continued detention was necessary for the protection of the pblic. It had not . .
CitedSturnham, Regina (on The Application of) v The Parole Board of England and Wales and Another (No 2) SC 3-Jul-2013
From 4 April 2005 until 3 December 2012, English law provided for the imposition of sentences of imprisonment for public protection (‘IPP’). The Court addressed the practical and legal issues resulting from the new system.
Held: The decision . .
CitedHaney and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for Justice SC 10-Dec-2014
The four claimants, each serving indeterminate prison sentences, said that as they approached the times when thy might apply for parol, they had been given insufficient support and training to meet the requirements for release. The courts below had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Criminal Sentencing

Updated: 04 June 2022; Ref: scu.165090