One of the first joint enterprise killers of Garry Newlove – who was kicked to death outside his home in Warrington after confronting vandals – has had a bid for a reduction in his 12-year minimum term rejected by a judge at the High Court.
Jordan Cunliffe, now in his early twenties, is serving life for his part in the alcohol-fuelled murder of the father-of-three.
In a ruling given in London Mr Justice Mitting said he did not recommend a reduction in the tariff, which is the minimum term to be served before Cunliffe is eligible to apply for release on parole.
Cunliffe was one of three teenagers found guilty of murder by a jury at Chester Crown Court in January 2008. He was aged 16 at the time of conviction.
Mr Newlove, a 47-year-old salesman, who had overcome stomach cancer, died following the incident outside his home in 2007.
He suffered massive head injuries in the attack, which was witnessed by his daughters, and died two days later in hospital.
Mr Justice Mitting said that as was Cunliffe’s right he had applied for a review of his minimum term.
The ground at the centre of the application for a tariff reduction was that there had been exceptional and unforeseen progress while in custody.
Giving the background to the case, the judge described Mr Newlove as a “brave and upright man”.
He had re-read a five-page typed statement, dated September 30 2014, submitted by Mr Newlove’s widow Baroness Newlove “which describes the impact which her husband’s murder has had upon her family, with particular emphasis on the impact on her three daughters”.
The judge continued: “She has asked that this statement is not made public or disclosed to the applicant, for particular reasons, which have been notified to me by the Ministry of Justice.
“I accede to that request. What it does is to demonstrate, graphically, how deep and lasting the affect of the dreadful crime committed by the applicant and his associates has been; and, inevitably, how unwelcome to his widow and daughters has been the need to prepare themselves for the outcome of my decision on this application.”
Mr Justice Mitting said that throughout Cunliffe has maintained that he was not guilty of the offence, denying being at the scene of the attack.
He was sentenced on the basis that he had not started the violence, but had, on the evidence of an eye witness, “kicked him, unshod, during the attack”.
The judge added: “Nothing in any subsequently produced material casts doubt on that conclusion.”
He said: “He was convicted and sentenced on the basis that he did participate in the fatal attack, even though he personally did not deliver the lethal kick.”
Mr Justice Mitting said: “Given his attitude to the offence, it is unsurprising that the applicant has never expressed remorse for his part in it.
“This does not, of course, mean that he must be detained until he does, but it is a factor of high significance when assessing whether or not the progress which he has made in custody has been exceptional and unforeseen.”
In conclusion the judge, who said that exceptional and unforeseen progress was a “high threshold”, announced: “The reports demonstrate that the applicant has made good progress in custody, which could not have been foreseen with certainty at the time when he was sentenced, but it would be a misuse of language to describe that progress as exceptional, either by reference to the standard of conduct to be expected of prisoners generally or to what might have been expected of him when sentenced.”
He said: “Accordingly, I do not recommend that the minimum term … be reduced.”