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Tories pledge to overhaul homicide laws, with tougher sentences for killers

The party’s proposals would result in a US-style tiered system with first and second degree murder (PA)
The party’s proposals would result in a US-style tiered system with first and second degree murder (PA)

Killers and domestic abusers will receive tougher sentences as a result of a proposed overhaul of homicide laws, which will be set out in the Conservative Party’s manifesto.

The minimum sentence for murders that take place in the home will increase from 15 years to 25 years under the party’s proposals, The Times has reported.

It is understood the Prime Minister wanted to change homicide law after he spoke to the families of Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates, who were fatally stabbed in Nottingham last June.

The newspaper reported that two of the families of Valdo Calocane’s victims said the proposals for US-style murder classifications would be a “seismic, important change”.

Valdo Calocane court case
Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

The party’s proposals would result in a US-style tiered system with first and second degree murder.

First degree murder would apply to those with intention to kill, and would result in an automatic life sentence, similar to current laws.

Second degree murder would apply to cases where the offender intended to do serious injury – some cases of manslaughter would be covered by this.

Sentencing for second degree murders would be left to the judge’s discretion.

Calocane fatally stabbed 19-year-old university students Mr Webber and Ms O’Malley-Kumar as they walked home from a night out in the early hours of June 13 last year, before killing 65-year-old Mr Coates and stealing his van.

He then used the vehicle to knock down three pedestrians, Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller, in Nottingham city centre before being arrested.

Prosecutors accepted his not guilty pleas to murder at his sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court in January, after several medical experts concluded he had paranoid schizophrenia.

Sentencing judge Mr Justice Turner told Calocane that his “sickening crimes” meant he would be detained indefinitely in a high-security hospital “very probably for the rest of your life”.

He also ruled that Calocane should be subject to further restrictions if ever discharged from hospital, which would need to be approved by the Justice Secretary.

Calocane would have been charged with second degree murder under the Conservatives’ proposals.

Speaking to The Times, Dr Sanjoy Kumar, the father of Grace O’Malley-Kumar, said: “It would be a seismic, important change.”

Labour’s shadow justice secretary, Shabana Mahmood, said: “The Conservatives have been in power for 14 years. Proposing this reform as a last-ditch attempt to look tough is cynical and transparent.

“Rishi Sunak wants to sound tough on domestic abusers, but he needs to urgently answer how he let the prisons crisis get so bad that he has been forced to release a high-risk domestic abuser that was deemed to be a threat to children.

“These are proposals from a man who has sat on his hands, first as chancellor and then as Prime Minister, while our criminal justice system has crumbled and victims have been failed.

“Labour has long been committed to look at inconsistencies in sentencing. We will do this as part of our work to get a grip on the prisons crisis, get the courts moving and get victims justice.

“We will restore the criminal justice system back to the standard of performance that victims and the public expect.”