The most senior judge in England and Wales this week made the case for reform of ‘fiendishly difficult’ murder law. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge MPs urged to be given a free vote on reform; called proposals for US-style first and second degree murder ‘provocative but very interesting’; and argued that the law needed to ‘keep in step with public opinion’.
His comments were made in the wake of a report by the Homicide Review Advisory Group, which included judges, academics and former QCs, that warned that neither mandatory sentences nor the system for setting minimum terms were acceptable. You can read more here. So-called mercy killings, the study noted, attract the same mandatory life penalty as serial killings.
- You can read Andrew Jeffries QC on the debate to reform the law HERE.
- You can read Kim Evans on the Kay Gilderdale case HERE.
Kay Gilderdale helped her daughter to die. Kay was a devoted, loving mother who unstintingly cared for her ill daughter Lynn for 17 years at the family home. Kay’s case helped reignite the debate surrounding euthanasia and the ‘right to die’, The 31-year-old Lynn led an ‘unimaginably wretched’ life through illness which led her to attempt suicide, consider ending her days at Dignitas, and sign a ‘living will’ after saying she ‘feared degeneration and indignity far more than I fear death’. Kay had cared for Lynn for 17 years since she was struck down by chronic fatigue syndrome. Lynn had been in constant pain since being diagnosed, paralysed, unable to eat or swallow.
‘Three years ago almost to the day, Kay Gilderdale helped her daughter to die,’ writes Kim Evans. ‘She didn’t want to, but her daughter had finally tired of her suffering, and so this mother did the most selfless act of love for her child that she could. Against all her instincts, Kay helped to end her beloved daughter’s life. I met Kay in the custody suite at Brighton police station where she had been taken following her arrest within hours of her daughter Lynette’s death.’
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award