Kirton/Ipswich: Family of man killed by a single punch call for a change in the justice system

A Suffolk MP today pledged to help a family who are calling for the law to be changed because their son’s killer could be free in just 15 months.

James Hodgkinson, 28, died nine days after a single punch from 19-year-old Jacob Dunne knocked him to the floor causing a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage.

Mr Hodgkinson, formerly of Kirton, had spent the day at Trent Bridge for an England test match with his father, brother and three friends.

The group, who were dressed as pirates, went into the city centre for drinks. Dunne’s group of friends tried on the pirate hats but they became argumentative when they asked for them back.

Last Friday Dunne pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Hodgkinson and was sentenced to 30 months in a young offenders’ institute. He will be eligible for parole in 15 months.

Dunne’s sentence has prompted Mr Hodgkinson’s family – his dad, David, 52, of Bucklesham Road, Kirton, mum Joan Scourfield, 48, of Britannia Road, Ipswich and brother, Philip, 26 – to call for a change in the law.

In a statement, the family said: “We don’t believe a sentence of 30 months, of which only 15 will be served, is justice for taking a life, but understand that it is beyond the powers of the police or courts to change the laws on sentencing.

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“Therefore we would ask that our local MP, for the Suffolk Coastal area, Dr Therese Coffey highlights this case in parliament for a review of the law.”

Dr Coffey said she would speak with the attorney general Dominic Grieve to see if the sentence can be reviewed with a view to increasing it.

She said: “I appreciate that for the family, nothing will ever bring back their son, but what I will spend my time focusing on is questioning whether the sentence should be reviewed.

“I will try and get hold of him (the attorney general) next week.

“There’s an option with the law that if the prosecution feels a sentence is not long enough, you can appeal for it to be reviewed.”

David Hines, chairman of the National Victims’ Organisation (NVA), which helps and supports families whose relatives have been the victims of murder or manslaughter, also backed calls for a change in the law.

Mr Hines, whose 22-year-old daughter Marie was killed in 1992 by her former partner, said: “It’s a disgrace.

“Sentences should be tougher as a deterrent. Thirty months is just ridiculous for somebody’s loss of life. You should be looking at a minimum of 10 years (in prison). We have to send out a signal to society that a life means something.”

Do you think the law needs to change? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or alternatively send an e-mail to