Self-styled ‘angel turned evil’ Victorino Chua has been jailed for at least 35 years for murdering two patients and poisoning 20 others.
Father-of-two Chua, 49, described by detectives as a narcissistic psychopath, injected insulin into saline bags and ampoules while working on two acute wards at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, in June and July 2011.
These were unwittingly used by other nurses, causing a series of insulin overdoses to mainly elderly victims.
Filipino Chua was convicted by a jury at Manchester Crown Court yesterday following a three month trial.
His victims’ loved ones were in court today as Chua was told he would serve a minimum of 35 years before being eligible for parole.
Mr Justice openshaw told the court: “He has committed a dreadful crime and he must now pay the price.”
His victims’ loved ones packed the public gallery above the dock where Chua sat below, with 10 jurors returning to court to see him sent down following a trial stretching over four months.
All sat grim faced in silence as Mr Justice openshaw recounted the pain, suffering and deaths of his victims and the anguish of their loved ones.
Impassive throughout the entire trial, Chua, dressed in a brown coat zipped up to his neck, showed no flicker of emotion, only blinking as he sat listening.
Stifled cries could be heard from the public gallery as Chua was taken down.
Described as “dangerous and devious” who used, “considerable cunning” to harm his patients with insulin, the father of two injected insulin into saline bags and ampoules while working on two acute wards at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, in June and July 2011.
These were then used by other nurses on the ward – leading to a series of insulin overdoses to mainly elderly victims.
Passing sentence Mr Justice openshaw added: “What he did was inexplicable and irrational.
“It is a striking, sinister and truly wicked feature of the case, he did not personally administer contaminated products directly to most of these patients but having left saline bags contaminated with insulin he did not know which nurse would unwittingly collect them and still less to which patient the nurse would then unwittingly administer the poison.
“It is as if he left it to fate to decide who would be the victim.”
A self-confessed “angel turned evil” has been found guilty of murdering and poisoning hospital patients.
Nurse Victorino Chua, 49, injected insulin into saline bags and ampoules while working on two wards at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport in June and July 2011.
These were then unwittingly used by other nurses on the ward – leading to a series of insulin overdoses to mainly elderly victims.
Chua was convicted of murdering two patients but cleared of a third murder by a jury at Manchester Crown Court, which had been deliberating for 11 days.
The crown said the Filipino father-of-two had decided to take out his personal frustrations on patients “for reasons truly known only to himself”.
After police were called in, Chua was said to have “changed tack” by sabotaging prescription charts, doubling and trebling dosages – some with potentially lethal consequences – leading to his arrest in January 2012.
Among the evidence produced by the prosecution was a self-penned letter found at Chua’s home in Stockport after his arrest.
In the letter, described as “the bitter nurse confession” by Chua, he said he was “an angel turned into an evil person” and “there’s a devil in me”. He also wrote of having things he would “take to the grave”.
He was found guilty of murdering Tracy Arden, 44, and Alfred Weaver, 83. He was cleared of murdering Arnold Lancaster, 81, who was suffering from cancer, but convicted of attempting to cause him grievous bodily harm with intent by poisoning.
Ms Arden, who had multiple sclerosis, was admitted for a “mild” chest infection would have expected to “sail through this storm”. But she was pronounced dead eight hours after admission after being treated with a saline ampoule contaminated with insulin.
Mr Weaver was admitted with a chest infection and after being given a saline drip, he “appeared to be in agony, eyes rolling back in his head”. H e died 10 days later.
Chua blinked as the verdicts were delivered but gave no other reaction.
He will be sentenced tomorrow.
In his closing speech to the jury of six men and six women, prosecutor Peter Wright QC said the “bitter nurse confession” was “a living and unfinished document.
“There was unfinished business. It is a narrative of his life, of his feelings, of his pent up frustrations. It was a portent of things to come and of what he had done.
“It is an insight into his thought process during a period of considerable anger and disharmony both at home and at work which coincided with these events.
“The evidence points sadly to a man who, for reasons truly known only to himself, decided to take out his frustrations on his and others’ patients.”
Chua’s defence team said he had been wrongly singled out and made “a scapegoat”.
Peter Griffiths QC said the effort that Greater Manchester Police had put into the investigation resulted in “huge pressure” to bring someone to account.
Another Stepping Hill nurse, Rebecca Leighton, was arrested and charged in the early stages of the investigation and locked up for more than a month before she was released without charge, the jury heard.
The defence reminded the jury that none of Chua’s fingerprints were found on any of the contaminated ampoules or saline bags – and no one had seen him sabotaging any products while working at the hospital.
But Chua was the only nurse who was on duty at all the relevant times outlined in the prosecution case against him
In all Chua was convicted of two murders, 22 counts of attempted grievous bodily harm, one count of grievous bodily harm, seven attempts of administering poison and one count of administering poison.
He was cleared of one count of murder, one count of manslaughter and one count of attempting to administer poison.
In June and July of 2011 a growing feeling of unease and “something not right” overtook medics after one patient after another suddenly began falling inexplicably ill on Chua’s wards.
Overnight on the nightshift of July 10/11, five patients had unexpected hypoglycaemic attacks, a naturally rare event, which suddenly became, “alarmingly common”.
A similar pattern followed of “roller coaster” blood sugar levels for the poisoned patients, who soon rallied after being given glucose sugar infusions, only before they relapsed again from the insulin, unknown to medics, still in their drips.
Many patients went “full circle” and recovered, but three died, two of them as a direct result of the poisoning the jury ruled with their murder verdicts, and a fourth was left with permanent brain damage.
Mr Justice openshaw told the jury he will sentence Chua tomorrow, with many relatives of his victims expected to attend the hearing to see him jailed for life.
He told them: “My thanks, and the thanks of the community, for the part you have played in the administration of justice in this very important trial.”
He told jurors they were excused for life from serving on a jury again, if they so wish.
Police and detectives hugged members of the legal team after the jury left court.
Operation Roxburg, a multimillion-pound three-and-a-half-year police investigation, was one of the biggest and most complex launched by Greater Manchester Police, involving 7,700 police actions, 659 witnesses, a 28,100-page prosecution file and 16,000 items of unused evidence material.
The arrest and charging of initial suspect nurse Rebecca Leighton in July 2011, until charges were dropped two months later, was thrown back in the face of the prosecution – they had got it wrong then and were wrong now, Chua’s defence claimed, and they were under “huge pressure” to bring someone in.
Outside court, Detective Superintendent Simon Barraclough said: “It’s been a search for the truth and the jury has reached the right decision.”
A man allegedly murdered in jail was named tonight as Wadid Barsoum, 66.
He was found in a cell at Britain’s largest prison,Wandsworth, yesterday morning.
Scotland Yard has said officers were called to the south London jail to reports of a male prisoner dead in a cell.
A spokesman said Taras Nykolyn, 46, also of HMP Wandsworth, had been charged with murder and will appear in custody at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court tomorrow Wednesday.
He added: “This follows an incident inside HMP Wandsworth at approximately 07:35hrs on 4 May.”
A Prison Service spokeswoman has said: “An HMP Wandsworth prisoner was pronounced dead in hospital at 8.52am on Monday 4 May.”
Wandsworth, a category B jail, can hold more than 1,800 prisoners. Alongside Liverpool, which is of similar size, it is one of the biggest prisons in Western Europe.
It was built in 1851, and the residential areas remain in the original buildings.
Since 1989, there has been extensive refurbishment and modernisation of the wings, including in-cell sanitation, privacy screens for cells occupied by more than one prisoner and the more recent installation of in-cell electricity.
A police constable has appeared in court accused of the murder of his wife.
Pc Otis Goldsmith, 49, is charged with killing his wife Jill within police grounds.
Goldsmith, who has 28 years’ service with Northamptonshire Police, was arrested after police were called to a house in Wootton Hall Park, Northampton, on Thursday.
He appeared at Corby Magistrates’ Court this morning and was remanded in custody to appear at Northampton Crown Court on Tuesday, the force said.
A forensic post-mortem examination of the victim took place yesterday and the cause of death was confirmed as a head injury.
Criminals who kill police or prison officers in the course of duty are to face whole-life jail sentences.
Changes to the law by the Ministry of Justice will mean judges will start by considering a whole-life tariff when deciding the sentence for killing either a police or prison officer in the course of their duty, up from the current starting point of a 30-year minimum term
Judges would retain the discretion to determine the appropriate sentence in each case – a whole life term will not be mandatory.
There have been 13 direct killings of police officers in the course of duty since 2000 – including the murder of Pcs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes by one-eyed Dale Cregan in Greater Manchester, who was handed a whole-life tariff.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Police officers play a vital role in keeping communities safe. As has been tragically demonstrated in recent years, this role is a dangerous one which can lead to officers paying the ultimate price while serving their community.
“On a daily basis, prison officers are also asked to protect the public by dealing with violent offenders and standing in the way of criminals in order to keep the peace.
“It is essential that police and prison officers feel the full weight of the state is behind them as they fulfil their crucial duties. Changing the starting point for this offence sends a clear message that the Government supports the work that these vital public servants play.”
The measure is being introduced by an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.
Most recently, PC Andrew Duncan, 47, was hit by a car in Sutton, south London, while checking vehicle speeds in September.
Gary Cody admitted causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for eight and a half years.
Other measures in the Bill include making criminals contribute towards costs of running the courts by imposing a new charge at point of conviction.
The Bill will also introduce a new offence with a punishment of up to two years in prison for criminals who go on the run while serving the non-custodial element of their sentence.
Other changes will bring an end to the automatic half-way point release for criminals convicted of rape or attempted rape of a child, or serious terrorism offences.
A man convicted of murdering a Cardiff teenager whose remains were found wrapped in carpet 25 years ago has had his case sent to the Court of Appeal.
Alan Charlton is serving a life sentence for killing 15-year-old Karen Price, who disappeared from a children’s home in 1981.
He was convicted in 1991 and an appeal failed three years later.
But it has now been referred because of concerns over techniques used by South Wales Police to investigate the case.
‘Body in the carpet’
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) said there had been concerns about the alleged “oppressive handling” of key witnesses by officers and alleged breaches of police regulations.
It became known as the “body in the carpet” case after the teenager’s remains were discovered wrapped in carpet in a shallow grave on 7 December 1989.
A plastic bag had been placed over her head and her arms had been tied behind her back.
The body was found by workmen in the garden of a property in Fitzhamon Embankment, Cardiff, eight years after Karen had disappeared.
After failed attempts to identify her body, Richard Neave, of Manchester University, created a clay facial reconstruction of the skull.
Karen was identified following the reconstruction and DNA samples taken from her parents and the skeletal remains.
Charlton, from Bridgwater, Somerset, was living at Fitzhamon Embankment at the time the teenager went missing.
He was convicted on 26 February 1991 at Cardiff Crown Court and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 15 years, but he remains in jail more than 20 years later.
In 1994, Charlton’s appeal was heard alongside that of co-defendant Idris Ali, from Birchgrove in Cardiff, who was Karen’s pimp.
The court dismissed Charlton’s appeal but quashed Ali’s conviction and ordered a retrial, where he admitted manslaughter and was released from prison.
But following a lengthy investigation, the CCRC has now referred Charlton’s conviction to the Court of Appeal as it considers there is “a real possibility that the court will quash the conviction”.
CCRC has said a number of officers involved in the case also investigated two notorious cases that resulted in miscarriages of justice – the murders of Lynette White and Philip Saunders.
The CCRC has also told the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary about its concerns.
IPCC commissioner Jan Williams said it raised important questions about the conduct of South Wales Police during the 1980s and 1990s.
“In the light of questions around other similar cases, this clearly raises serious issues for public confidence in the integrity of the force at that time,” she said.
“We therefore expect South Wales Police to review all the evidence from the CCRC, make a decision, and record and refer any conduct issues that may come to light and which may then require IPCC action.”
Following news of the appeal, South Wales Police Chief Constable Peter Vaughan said: “We note that the Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Alan Charlton for the murder of Karen Price to the Court of Appeal.
“In light of this referral we must now allow the judicial process to take its course and therefore cannot comment further at this stage.”
A shop worker has been jailed for a minimum of 27 years for murdering his “friendly and popular” boss in a frenzied knife attack in South Yorkshire.
Naeem Mehmood, 27, stabbed Parvaiz Iqbal 51 times in the freezer room of his butcher’s store and supermarket in Rotherham in October last year.
Mr Iqbal, 40, was found with a 7in (18cm) knife stuck almost up to the hilt in his chest, a judge at Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Another shop worker who came to his boss’s aid was stabbed in the stomach but survived the ordeal.
Prosecutor Peter Moulson QC described how, after the attack at the Bismallah Food Store, Mehmood went on a 10-minute rampage, smashing windows and threatening members of the public with a huge machete he picked up after leaving the murder weapon embedded in Mr Iqbal’s chest.
Mr Moulson said the defendant shouted “Don’t come outside or I will gut you up” in Punjabi to strangers as passers-by fled in terror.
He was eventually arrested after he was confronted by an unarmed police officer, Chief Inspector Ian Womersley.
Mr Moulson said the attack on Mr Iqbal was “unprovoked, sustained and determined”.
Mehmood was jailed for life by Mr Justice Males who ordered he serve a minimum of 27 years.
Earlier, Mehmood had pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Iqbal and causing Saied Husseine grievous bodily harm with inten
The judge said: “This was a brutal, sustained and unprovoked attack, beginning with a cowardly stab in the back by a lethal weapon.”
He told Mehmood: “All murder is very serious but the seriousness of this offence was particularly high.
“It involved a savage and ferocious attack with a lethal weapon, premeditation and gratuitous violence continuing well after Mr Iqbal was bleeding to death on the floor.
“There was also a deliberate and murderous attack on Mr Husseine, which could very easily have caused his death. Your conduct as you left the store and proceeded along the road, terrifying and threatening innocent members of the public as you went, was a serious aggravating factor.”
The judge said father-of-three Mr Iqbal was “a friendly and popular member of the community who was well-liked and respected by his employees, his customers and all who knew him”.
He noted how Mehmood terrified members of the public as he made “bloodthirsty threats” in the street while brandishing the 10in (25.5cm) machete above his head.
The court heard that he smashed up glass displays in Mr Iqbal’s shop, swearing and shouting as young children looked on.
Mehmood then smashed up a series of cars outside the store before breaking the windows of a barber’s shop, showering customers with glass and threatening the owner.
The judge said: “The aftermath, as you left the store and rampaged down the road in broad daylight for about 10 minutes, leaving a trail of destruction behind you, caused real and understandable fear to many members of the public.”
But he said: “Why you acted as you did is not apparent.”
The court heard that Mehmood, who came to Britain from Pakistan in May 2011, started work at the shop in June 2013 but went on sick leave in August after part of his finger was chopped off in a machine at the store.
The judge said the defendant had returned to work the day before he attacked his boss, on October 15.
He said: “It may be that you were reacting to what you perceived, with no justification at all, as some kind of slight or that you harboured some kind of grudge.
“But, in any event, there is not the slightest excuse for what you did.”
The judge said there was also no evidence of Mehmood suffering from any kind of mental disorder.
Passing sentence, he told Mehmood: “It is apparent from your conduct in this case that you are a very dangerous man and present a considerable risk to public safety.”
The judge also commended the actions of Mr Womersley, who confronted Mehmood in the car park of a Tesco supermarket. The unarmed officer approached the bloodstained defendant, who was still brandishing the machete, and convinced him to put down the weapon.
Outside court, Detective Inspector Kevin Brown, from South Yorkshire Police, said Mr Womersely “put his life at risk” to disarm Mehmood, who appeared in the dock surrounded by prison officers.
“There’s nothing really that’s come out in our investigation to explain why,” the officer said.
Mr Brown said Mehmood originally suggested that he had been disrespected by Mr Iqbal but more than a dozen of his other employees talked of him as being the “perfect boss” when interviewed by detectives.
Mehmood, of Herringthorpe Valley Road, Rotherham, was given a 10-year prison sentence for the attack on Mr Husseine, which the judge ordered to run concurrently.
A prisoner from Nottingham who was allegedly murdered in jail has been named by police.
Two men were arrested after Michael Hennessy, 22, died from a stab wound he suffered at HMP Lindholme in South Yorkshire on Saturday afternoon.
The force said it was not yet clear how the stab wound was inflicted and the two arrested men, aged 23 and 26, have been bailed.
They have been returned to the prison and continue to serve out their sentences.
The statement said: “Two men aged 23 and 26 who were arrested by police in the prison on suspicion of murder on Saturday evening have now been released from police custody on bail and returned to the prison service while the investigation continues.”
HMP Lindholme is classified as a Category C and D prison with a capacity of over 1,100.
The former RAF base near Doncaster opened as a prison in 1985 and houses men over the age of 21.
That can include people serving life and those on indeterminate sentences.
A snap inspection in the summer was highly critical of the jail’s wing for low-risk prisoners, and it has since been closed.
Among its findings, HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said there were religious tensions on the wing and discovered someone had defecated in washing facilities for Muslim prayers.
Described as an ”astonishing situation” by the inspectors, more than a third of prisoners interviewed had felt unsafe at some time, while drugs and alcohol were widely available on the D wing, which was shut down shortly after the inspection.
One in three people believes that a Royal Marine sentenced to life in prison for executing a Taliban fighter in cold blood should serve no jail time, a poll has found – but 65% said he should have been jailed and over 20% thought the ten years he received wasn’t long enough.
A total of 35% of respondents wanted Sgt Alexander Blackman to serve no jail sentence, 23% believed he should do five years, 20% were in favour of 10 years, while 22% thought he should be imprisoned for more than 10 years, the Mail on Sunday reported.
It comes as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that 11 separate inquiries would be held into cases of Iraqis who died in British custody.
The online poll of 900 people conducted by Survation found that asked a more general question 39% of voters said they disagreed with Blackman’s 10-year minimum life sentence, while 37% were in favour.
Commenting on the poll, Sir Gerald Howarth, a former defence minister and current MP for army garrison town Aldershot, said he agreed the sentence was too harsh.
‘The highest standard of discipline must be maintained in the armed forces and this man obviously committed an offence,” Sir Gerald told the MoS. “But 10 years is too much. Five years would be more appropriate.”
Sir Gerald said that the court should have taken the marine’s “fine record” following several tours of duty into account when handing down his sentence.
But arguing in favour of Blackman’s punishment, former Lib Dem leader and ex-Royal Marine Lord Ashdown said he was content with the judge’s decision to follow the law.
An order banning the naming of Blackman, 39, was lifted by High Court judges after he was found guilty at a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire.
Former senior officers and MPs reacted against that decision, amid claims that he may need protection from Islamists in prison, the Sunday Telegraph said.
Lord West of Spithead, a former first lord of the Admiralty, told the newspaper: “This is a man who has put his life on the line many times. I am not sure due account has been taken of this.”
Blackman, a respected senior non-commissioned officer with 15 years’ experience, was convicted last month following a two-week court martial in which his two co-accused, known only as Marines B and C, were acquitted of murder.
He was also ”dismissed with disgrace” from the Royal Marines.
The killing happened five months into an arduous six-month tour of Helmand province in 2011 with Plymouth-based 42 Commando, known as Operation Herrick 14.
Blackman, a 6ft 3in physically imposing marine, shot the Afghan, who had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter, in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.
Calls for him to be treated more leniently came as the MoD announced that it had began to organise 11 “semi-inquests” into cases of death in British custody in Iraq following a ruling by the High Court.
An MoD spokesman said: “All serious allegations of mistreatment are investigated by the independent Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), who has the power to recommend prosecution where appropriate.
“We do not accept on current knowledge that it will be necessary to hold quasi-inquests into other cases that were not identified by the court.
“The department will be reviewing this position once IHAT has investigated the claims to see what further investigation needs to be undertaken to comply with Article 3.”
Mark Leech editor of Converse the national prisons newspaper for England and Wales said he felt it was ‘absolutely right’ Blackman should have been jailed.
Mr Leech said: “If murder is wrong then its ‘wrong’; right?
“This poll shows that 65% of the public questioned think it was absolutely right he was jailed, I agree with that, and over 20% think a tariff of ten years wasnt long enough – but its about right when the sentencing guidelines are considered.
“The fact is Blackman clearly knew what he was doing, and he knew it was wrong – he said so himself.
“He was in a difficult situation but don’t forget he was convicted by a Courts Martial – convicted by fellow soldiers who know better than anyone what he was going through and they said he’d crossed the line into murder – if anyone should know they should know.”
Here in full are the sentencing remarks of Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett, which were delivered to Sergeant Alexander Blackman during his sentencing at the court martial centre in Bulford, Wiltshire:
“On 15 September 2011, while on patrol near CP Omar in Helmand Province, you shot an unknown Afghan insurgent in the chest and killed him. He had been seriously wounded having been engaged lawfully by an Apache helicopter and when you found him he was no longer a threat. Having removed his AK47, magazines and a grenade, you caused him to be moved to a place where you wanted to be out of sight of your operational headquarters at Shazad so that, to quote what you said: “PGSS can’t see what we’re doing to him.” He was handled in a robust manner by those under your command, clearly causing him additional pain, and you did nothing to stop them from treating him in that way. When out of view of the PGSS (Persistent Ground Surveillance System) you failed to ensure he was given appropriate medical treatment quickly and then ordered those giving some first aid to stop. When you were sure the Apache helicopter was out of sight you calmly discharged a 9mm round into his chest from close range. Your suggestion that you thought the insurgent was dead when you discharged the firearm lacks any credibility and was clearly made up after you had been charged with murder in an effort to concoct a defence. It was rejected by the Board.
“Although the insurgent may have died from his wounds sustained in the engagement by the Apache, you gave him no chance of survival. You intended to kill him and that shot certainly hastened his death. You then told your patrol they were not to say anything about what had just happened and you acknowledged what you had done by saying that you had just broken the Geneva Convention. The tone and calmness of your voice as you commented after you had shot him were matter of fact and in that respect they were chilling.
“That Afghan man, as an injured enemy combatant, was entitled to be treated with dignity, respect and humanity. Some commentators and members of the public have said that you should not have been prosecuted and that you have not committed a crime because it was killing within a conflict. Some also suggest it is legitimate to kill wounded enemy combatants because, as you said after you shot the insurgent, it is nothing they wouldn’t do to British casualties. Those commentators are very wrong: if the British Armed Forces are not assiduous in complying with the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law they would become no better than the insurgents and terrorists they are fighting. Hearts and minds will not be won if British service personnel act with brutality and savagery. If they do not comply with the law they will quickly lose the support and confidence of those they seek to protect, as well as the international community. You and all Service personnel learn this throughout your training – you demonstrated that you knew that then, because you tried to cover it up, and you know it now.
“This was not an action taken in the heat of battle or immediately after you had been engaged in a fire fight. Nor were you under any immediate threat – the video footage shows that you were in complete control of yourself, standing around for several minutes and not apparently worried that you might be at risk of attack by other insurgents. You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood. By so doing you have betrayed your Corps and all British Service personnel who have served in Afghanistan, and you have tarnished their reputation. In one moment you undermined much of the good work done day in and day out by British forces and potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks against your fellow service personnel. You have failed to demonstrate the self discipline and restraint that is required of service personnel on operations, and which sets British troops apart from the enemy they fight.
“Of course sitting in a court room in middle England is a far cry from the brutality of the conflict in Afghanistan, but you have been judged here by a Board made up of Service personnel who understand operational service because they too have experienced it. That is one of the strengths of the court martial system.
“Many people have expressed views on your sentence in the media demanding a severe punishment on one hand and leniency on the other. However, you are not being tried by the media nor by those who express themselves vociferously. This court martial is an independent and impartial tribunal which will not be influenced by these sorts of statements and we have ignored them. We have reached an independent decision on the appropriate sentence based on all of the evidence we have heard, your plea of mitigation and the legal framework which we are obliged to apply, together with our collective experience of the law and the context and stresses of operations. Board members have served in all the theatres in which you have served.
“Murder has always been regarded as the most serious criminal offence and the sentence prescribed is different from other sentences. By law, the sentence for murder is imprisonment for life and, by virtue of the Armed Forces Act 2006 s217, that is the sentence we must pass on you. There is no discretion to do otherwise. You will remain subject to that sentence for the rest of your life.
“The decision whether to release you from custody during this sentence will be taken by the Parole Board which will consider whether it is safe to release you on licence. We are therefore required by law to set a minimum term that has to be served before the Parole Board may start to consider whether to authorise your release on licence. If you are released, the licence continues, as I said, for the rest of your life and recall to prison is possible at any time.
“This offence is unique and unprecedented in recent history. You were in a tough operational environment where you were legally entitled to use lethal force against the enemy. Whilst carrying out your duty, you came across a very seriously wounded enemy combatant. You were obliged to care for him but instead you executed him. That is a wholly different matter from the cases of murder in the UK normally considered by the civilian courts, but we are still required by law to apply the same law which those courts are required to apply.
“Parliament has set starting points (based on the circumstances of the killing) in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Schedule 21, and we must apply that Schedule when fixing the minimum term. We reject the defence submission that Schedule 21 is not applicable. The drafters of the legislation provided a framework for all offences of murder and it is an unmeritorious argument to suggest that one particular type of murder was outside their contemplation. Schedule 21 provides a framework to assist the court in arriving at an appropriate sentence and there is sufficient flexibility to take into account the exceptional circumstances of this case.
“We have, therefore, identified an appropriate starting point within Schedule 21. From there we have gone on to consider whether to increase or reduce the sentence from that starting point in the light of aggravating or mitigating factors.
“This is not a case where a whole life order is appropriate. The normal starting point for a murder involving the use of a firearm is 30 years. (paragraph 5 of Schedule 21). In the case of R v Jones and Others  EWCA Crim 3115 Lord Phillips LCJ (at paragraph 26) explained why this was the case. He said: ‘We have no doubt that the reason why the seriousness of such an offence is normally considered to be particularly high is that it results from the unlawful carriage of a loaded firearm and that the usual purpose of carrying such a firearm is to be able to kill or cause really serious injury. It is possible to envisage circumstances where this is not the case, but they will be very rare. Where a firearm is carried for the purpose of being used as an offensive weapon, we find it hard to envisage what reason there could be for not following the guidance in Schedule 21 and adopting 30 years starting point.’
“Clearly this is not a ‘normal’ firearms case. You were on duty in Helmand Province where you were undertaking duties on behalf of the British Government. Those duties were dangerous and life threatening and you were required to carry weapons and if necessary use lethal force in the furtherance of Government policy. Your case is one of the exceptionally rare circumstances envisaged by their Lordships in Jones where a firearm was used but where the starting point will be less than 30 years.
“We are also satisfied that this offence does not fall within Schedule 21 paragraph 5A which specifies a minimum term of 25 years for offenders who take a knife or other weapon to the scene intending to commit any offence or have the weapon available and use it in committing a murder. As I have already said, you were armed legitimately and there is no suggestion that you set off on that patrol intent on murder.
“In circumstances where the offence does not fall within the whole life, 30 year or 25 year starting points, the appropriate starting point is 15 years (Schedule 21 paragraph 6) and that is the starting point we have adopted. As I have said we must then apply aggravating and mitigating factors to that starting point.
“We have considered the list of statutory aggravating factors in paragraph 10 of Schedule 21. We do not accept the prosecution submission that the use of a firearm is an aggravating factor. You were armed legitimately and authorised to use lethal force. In fact in this circumstance your use of force was illegal, but it would be wrong to consider the use of a pistol which was carried lawfully in the context of military operations as an aggravating factor. We also accept that there was not a significant degree of planning or premeditation although it is clear from what you said that you decided shortly after you had disarmed the insurgent that you were going to do something to him which you did not want to be seen by your superiors in the headquarters. However, we have taken into account the following statutory and other aggravating factors:
a. The victim was particularly vulnerable because he was seriously wounded and lying helpless and in obvious pain while you considered what to do with him.
b. Your actions have put at risk the lives of other British service personnel. You have provided ammunition to the terrorists whose propaganda portrays the British presence in Afghanistan as part of a war on Islam in which civilians are arbitrarily killed. That ammunition will no doubt be used in their programme of radicalisation. That could seriously undermine the reputation of British forces and ultimately the mission in Afghanistan. As I have already said, committing this sort of act could well provoke the enemy to act more brutally towards British troops in retribution or reprisal.
c. You were in charge of the patrol and it was incumbent upon you to set the standards. Long before you shot the insurgent you should as a Senior NCO have shown better leadership to young and less experienced men. In fact you abused your position of trust by involving the other junior and subordinate members of your patrol in covering up what you had done and lying on your behalf.
“On the other hand, there are a number of statutory and other mitigating circumstances which apply, and which we have taken into account.
a. First provocation: The cumulative effect of the increased kinetic activity, together with the deaths and life changing injuries to fellow marines had an obvious effect on you. You were also affected by the story that the Taliban had hung a British serviceman’s severed limb in a tree, although you did not personally see that. You were also in no doubt that the victim was an insurgent who had been firing at CP Taalanda moments before he was wounded.
b. Second, the stress of operations: This was your sixth operational tour and your second to Afghanistan in under 14 years of service. We accept that you were affected by the constant pressure, ever present danger and fear of death or serious injury. This was enhanced by the reduction of available men in your CP so that you had to undertake more patrols yourself and place yourself and your men in danger more often. We also accept the psychiatric evidence presented today that when you killed the insurgent it was likely that you were suffering to some degree from combat stress disorder.
c. Third your personal mitigation: The recent death of your father, your previous good character and excellent record of Service and the fact that you would never have committed this sort of offence at home in the UK.
“The determination of the ultimate sentence is not a mathematical calculation but a question of balance and we have drawn together our collective experience of the law and of the Armed Forces to pass a sentence which reflects the seriousness of the offence, the context of the offending and your personal mitigation. While we acknowledge your personal circumstances and the immense pressure you were under, we note that thousands of other Service personnel have experienced the same or similar stresses. They exercised self-discipline and acted properly and humanely; you did not.
“It is also very important that this Court sends out a very strong message that while this sort of offence is extremely rare, if not unique, those Service personnel who commit crimes of murder, or other war crimes or crimes against humanity while on operations will be dealt with severely. This is a message of deterrence but it is also to reassure the international community that allegations of serious crime will be dealt with transparently and appropriately. In our view that message is delivered by sentencing you to imprisonment for life. Setting the minimum term reflects the seriousness of the offence while taking account of the unique and special circumstances of this case and your personal mitigation.
“We took some of the operational contextual mitigating factors into account in reducing the starting point from 30 to 15 years, but the other mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors we have identified. Having balanced all of these matters we have determined that the minimum term you must serve before you are eligible for the Parole Board to start considering whether you should be released on licence will be 10 years. That will be reduced to 9 years 327 days to reflect the 38 days you have already spent in custody.
“As an inevitable consequence of a sentence of life imprisonment you will also be reduced to the ranks and dismissed with disgrace from Her Majesty’s Service. We consider it necessary to dismiss you with disgrace because a sentence of dismissal simpliciter would be inadequate to reflect the gravity with which the court regards your conduct.”