Victims' mothers oppose jail plans


Ken Clarke's proposals on sentencing powers have been attacked by murder victims' relatives

Mothers of murder victims have protested against Government proposals which they claim would see killers spending less time in prison.

Members of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression (Mamaa) gathered outside the Ministry of Justice in Westminster, central London, to condemn the Green Paper put forward by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.

Karen Austin, whose son Darcy was gunned down outside Wandsworth Prison in May last year, said she could not “even begin to accept” anything that might reduce sentences for murder.

She said: “Darcy’s death destroyed our lives and destroyed our family. As far as I’m concerned life should mean life but we don’t really have that in this country. But 30 years at least would give me the comfort that these people are off the streets.

“I have had a life sentence. If you allow these people to go free after a few years then there’s no prevention, there’s no punishment.”

Under Mr Clarke’s plan judges would be given more discretion over how long killers should spend behind bars.

The proposals would scrap guidance which sets out fixed starting points of 15 and 30 years and a whole life term for parole for different types of murder.

Instead, a “simpler, more sensible” approach would be put in place which “leaves the judge to do justice in the individual case”, Mr Clarke said.

Protest organiser Cathy Franklin, whose two-year-old son Ryan was killed eight years ago, said: “We’ve got to make a stand. Ken Clarke seems to have done almost no consultation with the victims of crime.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The Government has absolutely no intention whatsoever of reducing sentences for murder. We are not abolishing the mandatory life sentence for murder, nor are we sanctioning any reduction in the minimum terms imposed for murder.”

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