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When someone is convicted of MURDER in the United Kingdom, there are various sentences which can be handed down; whether "life sentence", "whole life sentence" and (previously up until 1965) "death sentence". But what do these terms actually mean and how long in prison does each term represent? Murder Mile blog investigates.
DEATH SENTENCE: The last official executions carried out in the United Kingdom were the dual hangings on the 13th August 1964 of Peter Anthony Allen at Walton Prison (Liverpool) and Gwynne Owen Evans at Strangeways Prison for the murder of John Alan West on 7th April 1964. After this, the Death Sentence was suspended for five years in 1965 and abolished on 16th December 1969. Although under very specific circumstances, a death penalty was still applicable until 1998. These include:
Under Section 5 of the Homicide Act 1957 'Capital Murder', there were five specifically defined acts of murder which warranted the death penalty:
LIFE SENTENCE: The act of murder in England & Wales carries a mandatory life sentence to anyone aged 21+, with those aged 18 to 20 years sentenced to life in custody and those under 18 sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure*. Under Section 109 of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 2000, life sentences are automatically applied for the following offences:
30 Years (before parole is considered)
12-15 Years (before parole is considered) - murder committed by a minor (ages 11-17)
15 Years (before parole is considered) - any other murder. not applicable above
In the horrifying abduction, torture and murder of 2 year old James Bulger on 12th February 1993, Robert Thompson & Jon Venables (both aged just 12 years old at the time of the murder) were sentenced to custody until they reached 18, and in June 2001 were released under new identities on a lifelong licence. They are the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history.
WHOLE LIFE ORDER: Also known as a whole life sentence, it was established in 1983, and means that the prisoner will spend the rest of their life in prison without the possibility of parole. As laid down in Section 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the following warrants a whole life order:
If you "enjoyed" this blog post, take a peek at; Famous British Serial Killers - Where Are They Now? Also Serial Killers & Murderers Who Were Never Caught, London's Deadliest & Often Forgotten Disasters, KIllers Born During a Full Moon, Killer's Birthdays / Star Signs, Serial Killers Who Were On TV, Celebrities Who Have Killed, London's Railway of Death, Serial Killers as Kids and the World's Weirdest Death Rituals
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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