Eligibility for life sentences should be reduced from the age of 21 to 18

 

AN MP is set to try and change the law to reduce the age someone can be given a whole life sentence – after the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber escaped the toughest prison term.

 

As it stands a whole life sentence can only be given to a person over 21 at the time of the crime but Shipley MP Philip Davies wants it reduced to 18.

 

Mr Davies said: “At 18 someone knows what they are doing and are old enough to take responsibility for their actions. It is bad enough that life doesn't mean life at all in most cases but restricting the use of actual whole of life sentences just because someone is under 21 is ridiculous.  

 

“If someone is old enough to arrange to blow up innocent people in the most horrific circumstances then they should be old enough to be made to serve the rest of their life behind bars.”

 

Earlier this week Hashem Abedi, who helped plan the attack carried out by his brother Salman Abedi escaped a life sentence because he was not 21 at the time of the attack.

 

Mr Davies will table an amendment to the upcoming Sentencing Bill expected to return to the Commons later this year to try to change the law to ensure the loophole is not used again.

 

In March, the now 22-year-old was convicted of 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder covering the injured survivors, and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.

 

He was jailed for at least 55 years but could walk free on day due to the loophole in legislation.

Mr Davies added: “This is utterly ludicrous and Government need to be on the side of the victims and not criminals. The Conservative Party is the party of law and order and I will do everything I can to fight for this change in law and ensure people who commit the most heinous of crimes, regardless of whether they are under 21 face the toughest sentence going and never walk free. The judge at the time made it clear his hands were tied because of laws set by Parliament so it is our job to change that.”

Speaking at the start of the hearing, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said: "The reality is that if the accused had been over the age of 21, as was his brother, who of course died in the incident, then it would be the prosecution's case that this was a case where a whole life order was appropriate.

"It is a matter not at the court's discretion… but a matter for Parliament, which passed the legislation to prevent the court from passing a whole order in this case."

 

The explosion at the Manchester Arena killed 22 innocent people and injured more than 130. Bomber Salman was also killed.

 

A public enquiry into the attack is due to begin next month.

 

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