Anwer Rosser – whole life tariff upheld

Anwer Rosser – whole life tariff upheld

Photo from the Telegraph


It’s always good to follow cases that we have looked at as they get appealed. In February 2014 we looked at the case of Anwer Rosser, who got a whole life tariff for the murder (with a sexual motive) of a 4 year old child of a friend that he was staying with.

We stated that “a long determinate tariff (around 35-40 years) would have been appropriate. I doubt that the Court of Appeal will touch this one though.” Well, on 31st October 2014, the Court of Appeal considered his case, along with another (Jamie Reynolds).

As we predicted, the Court of Appeal did not interfere, and upheld the whole life tariff. We have seen the judgment, and there does not appear to be anything in that to change our initial view that a (very) length determinate tariff would have sufficed, but it is clear that even with that there was a good chance that Mr Rosser would have spent the rest of his meaningful life in prison in any event.


Are whole life tariffs legal?

Well, this issue is rumbling on and on. The latest from the ECHR is that they upheld their previous view that there should be a safety valve for whole life tariffs that the case should be looked at again after (about) 25 years to check that a whole life tariff is still needed.

The Court of Appeal have gone full steam ahead ignoring that and upheld again the principle of whole life tariffs (it is not clear whether it was argued here in fairness).

What happens next? Much more money will be wasted spent by the Government defending something that will have absolutely no practical effect. My views on the merits of this are fairly clear, but it seems that this will run and run as politicians use it as another proxy on the war over Europe. Maybe it will all calm down after the General Election. We shall see, I won’t be holding my breath.

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. Mention of the ECHR and ‘ whole life tariffs ‘ seems ironic to me at the moment, when just last week they refused the appeal of Steve Gough (“The Naked Rambler”) against his imprisonment for appearing naked in public. Given Steve’s history and intent, the ECHR’s decision that Steve has no Human Right to live naked, it has, in effect, confirmed the British ‘justice’ system’s “whole life sentence” on him. Steve has already served longer in prison than Oscar Pristrius will for murder. And Steve’s offences? Merely to be unashamed of his body.
    So when I see the words ‘whole life sentence’, I think that they already exist, and in Steve Gough’s case probably will mean Whole Life. It seems that under British Law (as it actually operates, as opposed to theory) the offence of having a body and not being ashamed of it is illegal and carries a whole life sentence equal to that of a sexually motivated baby killer.
    Human Rights? Forget it.

  2. This is a horrific offence and was not aware of it in the media. Was there much coverage?
    Truly horrific breach of trust, sexual offence and then murder. I did not read the info as would horrify me and traumatise me as a Mother & empath. I am unclear about sentencing as am only just learning about law and offences, so can you clarify what whole of life tariff is?

    I am setting up Against misogny & child abuse to record, action, report, campaign, educate to prevent more of these heinious, horrendous crimes from taking place.

    • A whole life tariff is where a life sentence is given to someone, but with no end date – there is no possibility that they can ever be released. Have a look here for some background.