Killer's 'pitiful' jail sentence is not justice for Richard's family
- Credit: Archant/Suffolk Constabulary/Richard Day's family
On Monday, I have been given the special privilege to lead a debate in the House of Commons on the sentencing regime for 17-year-olds.
This debate, which I have fought hard to secure, comes following a review by the Attorney General into the sentencing of the killer of Ipswich man Richard Day, who died in February last year.
I have been very clear in my views on the sentence that the killer, Andrea Cristea, received in April of this year.
I do not feel that the pitiful sentence of only four years in a young offender’s institution gives Richard Day’s family the justice that they deserve.
Not only does this pitiful sentence no doubt cause great hurt for the family and friends, but it also raises serious questions about what the authorities imagine will happen to Cristea after he is released.
I made it clear in a previous statement that I, and many of my constituents, do not want Cristea stepping even a foot back here in Ipswich ever again.
I understand that his age played an aggravating factor, but I still firmly believe that with the nature of the manslaughter and the despicable events that happened after it should be met with a firmer sentence.
What has rubbed salt into the wound of this verdict is that fact that Cristea will probably be back on Ipswich’s soil far sooner than the sentence suggests.
With his current sentence, he could be let out of prison automatically after two years. Considering he has already served 14 months on remand, he might only be behind bars for only another 10 months in total.
In my eyes, this is just not enough. I intend to make this clear in the debate on Monday, adding another voice to the growing number of people expressing anger that lenient sentences like this can be passed down.
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I have always said that I have a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to crime and anti-social behaviour in our town.
I have been in close contact with Richard’s family throughout this horrible ordeal.
With their permission, I wrote to the Attorney General to express my concern at the sentencing given and to highlight that, in my opinion, much more needs to be done to restore the faith of many of my constituents in the justice system itself.
I believe this needs a monumental amount of work and verdicts like Cristea’s do nothing to help restore that confidence.
I do believe that over the last couple of years there has been some progress with regards to tougher sentences, such as ending the automatic half-way release for those sentenced to life in prison, as well as stopping the early release of sexual offenders.
However, more must be done to support families like that of Richard Day and to ensure they get the justice they deserve.
This adjournment debate on Monday will give me the opportunity to express to the Speaker of the House of Commons my strong position that there needs to be further reform of the sentencing regime for 17-year-olds.
This position has been further amplified by the decision of the Attorney General not to refer the sentencing to the Court of Appeal.
This decision was down to the fact that according to the current sentencing guidelines, and the range of sentences available to the judge for criminals of Cristea’s age and aggravated factors, the Court of Appeal would be very unlikely to increase the sentence.
In my opinion then, these sentencing guidelines need to be looked at again and new measures need to be brought in to ensure that tougher responses are given for crimes as severe as this.
I also raised the key concern that there appears to be no gradation between the way the courts treat minors who commit crimes such as this one.
I was encouraged to hear that the use of a ‘sliding scale’ to determine the sentencing of the young person is likely to change for those convicted of murder.
However, I am concerned that this might not cover manslaughter charges or be as tough as victims' families deserve.
I want to use this adjournment debate to highlight these concerns and to ensure that any changes, as welcome as they are, to strengthen the sentencing for severe crimes are scrutinised properly.
It is absolutely paramount that future families, like that of Richard Day, do not have to see lenient sentences where killers can be back on the street within two years.
I cannot imagine how difficult this has been for them to experience and it is vitally important that the pressure to create systematic and longstanding change is pushed whenever possible.
I want to add my voice to this cause and fight to ensure my constituents are heard.
I have been inspired by the strength that Richard’s family has shown throughout this ordeal.
To lose such a cornerstone of the family and then to go through the trial and sentencing is something no family should have to bear.
I want to use this Adjournment Debate on Monday to give a testimony to Richard, his character and what he meant to his family and Ipswich.
It is through this that I might memorialise Richard’s memory within Hansard, the written books of everything ever spoken within the House of Commons.
Whilst this will only be a small token, I hope that it is a small way that Richard can be remembered for years to come.
After speaking with a member of his family recently, I remain struck at the impact that Richard had on the community during his life.
Whilst I didn’t know him personally, the descriptions I have heard are a real testament to his character.
Richard was clearly incredibly passionate about his work as an engineer for the UK Power Networks. He was very popular and well respected by both friends and colleagues.
I know how important he was to his three brothers. He was someone they all looked up to and relied upon in difficult times and he was always there to help.
Richard was also a season ticket holder of Ipswich Town Football Club and, despite poor results, would always weather it with good humour.
It is this character I intend to honour in the debate on Monday and it is for families like Richard’s that we must see a tougher approach to sentencing.