Ipswich MP on 'most difficult speech I have ever had to give'

Tom Hunt Andrea Cristea sentence

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt gave a tribute in parliament to Richard Day - but also spoke of his concerns over the sentencing of killer Andrea Cristea - Credit: Parliament TV/Suffolk Constabulary

On Monday, I led an Adjournment Debate on the life of Richard Day and the sentencing regime for 17-year-olds.

Personally, this was the most difficult speech I have had to give since becoming the Member of Parliament for Ipswich.

Since I found out about the tragic killing of Richard in February last year, I have sought to stand by his family to see that justice was done.

In this time, I have learned about the man that Richard was, the impact he had on his friends and family and the devastation that his loss has caused the town of Ipswich.

Richard Day, 45, was described as a quiet and reserved man Picture: SUPPLIED BY MR DAY'S FAMILY

Richard Day was described by Ipswich MP Tom Hunt as an 'asset to his community' - Credit: Supplied by family

Conveying this into a speech that would do Richard’s memory justice was incredibly difficult for me. I found it humbling to be the individual who was able to recount the life of such a loved figure in the community.

I wanted to ensure that the memory of Richard Day lives on through the written record of Parliament, Hansard.

Whilst this is only a small way to commemorate Richard, I think to have a testimony that will last forever in Parliamentary records is a fitting tribute to such a well-loved man.

I wanted to highlight how kind and generous Richard’s character was and what an asset to his job and community he had been throughout his life.

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I explained how integral he was to his family, caring for his mother and supporting his three brothers whenever he could, as well as how much Ipswich Town Football Club meant to him.

I also wanted to use the Adjournment Debate to raise a serious point about the criminal justice system.

The pitiful sentence given to the killer, Andrea Cristea, is in my opinion - and the opinion of everyone I have spoken to about this - a travesty of justice.

It does not give the family, or Ipswich, the sense that justice has been served whatsoever.

I wanted to highlight to the minister replying to the debate, how sentences like this do not send a clear message of deterrence to others who may be considering this lifestyle, thinking that they can either get away with it or suffer only a short-term punishment.

I welcomed the news that some reform for murder was being introduced, using a ‘sliding-scale’ to prevent an unreasonable shift in sentences between 17 and 18-year-olds which can currently fluctuate massively.

In my research for this speech, I discovered that the average length of a manslaughter custodial sentence is nine years.

Therefore, for Cristea at 17 years of age to only get four, with automatic release after two years, is a shame on the criminal justice system.

In my opinion, the judge’s hands were tied to some extent when trialling Cristea, because the sentencing guidelines are far too lenient for criminals convicted of manslaughter under the age of 18.

It is here that change must be made and this is part of the reason why I wanted to speak on this issue in the Adjournment Debate.

Andrea Cristea was jailed at Ipswich Crown Court for killing Richard Day

Tom Hunt does not want Andrea Cristea to set foot in Ipswich again - Credit: Suffolk police

In putting this point to the minister, I was determined to highlight that whilst I am keen to see that this new ‘sliding scale' - which initially looks good - is brought into effect soon, it must apply to manslaughter as well as murder.

This ‘sliding scale’ would see a much more measured drop in sentences per the age of the child, with about a 10% increase from 17 to 18, dependent on circumstances.

I was then very encouraged by the minister's response.

He assured me that he would take a serious look into extending this 'sliding scale' to incorporate manslaughter and that by bringing the tragic case of Richard Day to his attention, he believes that there is evidence for why this should certainly be considered.

I look forward to his further response and I will continue to both monitor this situation closely and to advocate the common sense notion that manslaughter must be included to prevent killers such as Cristea from escaping the full and harsh sentences they deserve.

A worry that many have expressed to me - and that I share myself - is the possibility that Cristea, with his short sentence, could be back on the streets of Ipswich in the near future and able to commit heinous crimes like this again.

A key point that I hope the minister can take away - that of incorporating manslaughter into the ‘sliding scale’ - will, I hope, make some difference to the way that those who are determined to cause unbelievable damage are handled by the justice system.

I am completely aware that there is nothing that can be said or done that can bring Richard back to his family and friends. The ordeal they have had to go through since his death should never have to be repeated by anyone else.

I hope that in strengthening the law to protect us from individuals like Cristea, we can make a real difference.

I am also glad that in some way, however small, I was able to make sure that Richard’s memory will be able to live on within the Houses of Parliament.

It is the least a Member of Parliament can do for someone that was so loved by his family and the town of Ipswich.

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