Ellie’s Law | Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022
‘Ellie’s Law’ arises from events following the sad death of seventeen years old Wiltshire teenager, Ellie Gould, who was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Thomas Griffiths in May 2019.
As he was only seventeen at the time of the murder, he received a far more lenient sentence than an adult would have received. However, following a campaign lasting two years by Ellie’s parents and others, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland announced a change in the law to the extent that teenage killers could now face prison sentences of up to twenty-seven years.
Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors comments upon these events.
Kangs Solicitors has been defending clients charged with criminal offences of every nature for well over twenty years and is rated as one of the best criminal law firms in the country being ‘Top Ranked’ by the leading legal directories The Legal 500 and Chambers UK.
The Legal 500 states that Kangs Solicitors is:
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Our Team is led by Hamraj Kang who is recognised as a leading expert in the field of criminal law. He is ranked in the ‘Top Tier’ by both of the above-mentioned leading directories.
The Offence, Arrest and Trial | Kangs Murder and Manslaughter Defence Solicitors
On 3 May 2019, Thomas Griffiths followed a pre-conceived plan of action designed to confront Ellie at her home.
Having avoided attending school and discovery by his mother, he took the keys to a Ford Focus motor vehicle and drove to Ellie’s house.
Ellie was alone when he arrived, studying whilst awaiting a lift to school from her friend. An argument developed resulting in Thomas strangling her and then he stabbed her in the neck over a dozen times.
Thomas then attempted to disguise his actions by endeavouring to cover his tracks and making the injuries look self-inflicted by Ellie by:
- cleaning the kitchen knife he had used and placing it in her hand;
- texting his friends to say that they would not be getting back together until after the exams;
- texting Ellie’ mobile phone leaving a message requesting that they meet in person;
- texting Ellie’s friend on her phone informing her that she no longer required a lift to school;
- washing his trainers; and
- washing and disposing of his clothes in a nearby wood.
Following this, Thomas returned home whereafter a neighbour gave him a lift to school.
Upon his discovery of Ellie’s body, her father, Mathew, informed the Police who arrested Thomas based on the suspicions held by Ellie’s mother, Carol, which arose from previous comments Ellie had made to her about, inter alia, his controlling and strange behaviour in the weeks leading to their breakup.
Upon the evidence gathered by the Police, Thomas was charged with murder, appeared before in Salisbury Magistrates’ Court and remanded in custody.
Subsequently Thomas pleaded guilty and on 8 November 2019, the Sentencing Judge, Justice Garnham, having considered both aggravating and mitigating items, imposed a life sentence with a minimum of twelve and a half years to be served.
Post Sentencing Events | Kangs Serious Crime Defence Solicitors
Request to Attorney General.
Being totally dissatisfied with the length of sentence passed, Ellie’s family, wrote to the Attorney General’s Office requesting that Thomas’s sentence be reviewed and on 6 December 2019, responded by stating:
‘After careful consideration the Attorney General has concluded that he could not refer this case to the Court of Appeal. A referral under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme to the Court of Appeal can only be made if a sentence is not just lenient but unduly so, such that the sentencing judge made a gross error or imposed a sentence outside the range of sentences reasonably available in the circumstances of the offence.’
Campaign for Self Defence Lessons in Schools
Ellie’s family and friends considered that the Justice System had failed them, they teamed up with ‘Killed Women’, a campaign organisation and network supporting bereaved families whose family members or relatives have been killed by men.
Jointly, they campaigned for compulsory self-defence classes to be taught in schools across the country upon the premise that knowledge of basic self-defence techniques may have helped Ellie survive.
Both supporting and dissenting views were aired with the result that Junior Education Minister, MP Vicky Ford, ruled out compulsory lessons but agreed to issue guidance on ‘how to make safe and effective provision where a school is considering adding this to their teaching’ leaving it to Headteachers to determine whether self-defence lessons were ‘right for their schools’.
Accordingly, ‘self-defence’ may become a topic of conversation in schools in the future with ‘self-defence’ activities appearing on a school’s curriculum.
Campaign for Change to the Law
Ellie’s family, friends and the Killed Women organisation also campaigned for a change to the law seeking an increase in the minimum starting point for sentences given to young offenders convicted of serious crimes, especially those only a few months away from becoming eighteen, as was Thomas.
As the result of Parliamentary discussions, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland, on 9 March 2021, introduced the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The New Law | Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 | Kangs Crown Court Defence Solicitors
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 states:
‘ 127 Starting points for murder committed when under 18
In Schedule 21 to the Sentencing Code (minimum terms in mandatory life sentences), for paragraph 6 substitute—
“5A(1) This paragraph applies if—
(a)the offender was aged under 18 when the offence was committed, and
b)the offender was convicted of the offence on or after the day on which section 127 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 came into force.
(2)The appropriate starting point, in determining the minimum term, is the period given in the entry in column 2, 3 or 4 of the following table that corresponds to—
a)the age of the offender when the offence was committed, as set out in column 1, and
(b)the provision of this Schedule that would have supplied the appropriate starting point had the offender been aged 18 when the offence was committed, as set out in the headings to columns 2, 3 and 4.
|Age of offender when offence committed||Starting point supplied by paragraph 3(1) had offender been 18||Starting point supplied by paragraph 4(1) had offender been 18||Starting point supplied by paragraph 5 had offender been 18|
|17||27 years||23 years||14 years|
|15 or 16||20 years||17 years||10 years|
|14 or under||15 years||13 years||8 years|
6(1) This paragraph applies if—
(a) the offender was aged under 18 when the offence was committed, and
(b) the offender was convicted of the offence before the day on which section 127 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 came into force.
(2) The appropriate starting point, in determining the minimum term, is 12 years.’
- The amendments to the law do not apply retrospectively which means that individuals, such as Thomas, cannot have their sentences reviewed and increased as they were sentenced before the amendments came into force.
- However, individuals, such as Thomas, will not be allowed to have their sentence reviewed and, potentially, reduced at the halfway point of the sentence. Accordingly, Thomas will not be eligible for parole until 2031, which is not to say that in 2031, he will be released.
Accordingly, Section 27 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 is known as Ellie’s Law because the amendments which it introduced would not have occurred had it not been for the sad death of Ellie and the campaign which followed conducted by her family, friends, and Killed Women.
Official Comments | Kangs Offences Against the Person Defence Solicitors
DCI Jim Taylor, Wiltshire Police, stated:
‘There were no warning signs or red flags regarding his behaviour. His actions on 3 May were truly unthinkable. The injuries he inflicted on Ellie were horrific. Not only did he end her life in the cruellest way imaginable, but he also then attempted to cover his tracks.’
Carol Gould, Ellie’s mother, stated:
‘We always had hanging over us that in four years’ time we were going to face a process where Griffiths could potentially get his sentencing reduced.’
‘We were just devastated that our daughter’s life was only worth 12 and a half years as it was. The thought of having that reduced even further was just heartbreaking.’
‘We now know that he will remain behind bars for at least the next 10 and a half years’.
The Impact Assessment for the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill stated:
‘There is limited evidence that the combined set measures will deter offenders’ long term or reduce overall crime’.
How Can We Help You? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors
The Team at Kangs Solicitors has been assisting and defending clients charged with criminal offences of every nature for many years and is highly regarded and praised nationally.
Whatever your age, if you have been, or anticipate, being arrested or subjected to investigation in respect to any alleged criminal activity we will provide:
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