Life means life for Thornbury killer Stephen Farrow

Gazette Series: Life means life for Thornbury killer Stephen Farrow Life means life for Thornbury killer Stephen Farrow

THE Court of Appeal has backed the use of whole-life sentences for the "most heinous crimes" meaning killers like Stephen Farrow will die in prison.

Farrow brutally murdered Thornbury vicar John Suddards in his Castle Street vicarage and pensioner Betty Yates in her Worcestershire home in 2012.

Retired Yates, 77, and Rev Suddards, 59, were viciously attacked six weeks apart.

Farrow landed a double life sentence for the savage murders at Bristol Crown Court in November 2012. He was diagnosed as a psychopath and a pathological liar and was told by the judge he would never be released.

In July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that whole-life sentences were unlawful because there was no prospect of review.

But a Court of Appeal ruling last week rejected claims that whole-life orders, where there is no prospect of a prisoner being released, were “wrong in principle”.

A panel of five judges at the Court of Appeal backed the Government’s argument that “life should mean life” after the Strasbourg-based human rights court claimed last year that all convictions should be reviewed after 25 years – regardless of the offences committed.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, who headed the panel on Tuesday, February 18 said the court held that the ability of judges to pass whole-life orders was "entirely compatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights.

"Judges should therefore continue as they have done to impose whole-life orders in those rare and exceptional cases which fall within the statutory scheme.

"In our judgment the law of England and Wales therefore does provide to an offender “hope” or the “possibility” of release in exceptional circumstances which render the just punishment originally imposed no longer justifiable.

Farrow is one of 53 English prisoners currently serving whole-life sentences.

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