Becky Watts Murder – Sentencing

Becky Watts Murder – Sentencing

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Photo from the BBC

Introduction

We covered the case of the murder of Becky Watts when guilty verdicts were returned on 11th November 2015.

The next day, we were back at Bristol Crown Court for sentencing.

 

Factual Background

Becky Watts, a 16 year old from Bristol was murdered by Nathan Matthews, her 28 year old step-brother in February of this year.

The background to this was that Mr Matthews, and his partner Shauna Hoare, had shared extreme fantasies about abducting and abusing school children.

It seems that this was the backdrop to the offending. The pair kidnapped Becky for the purpose of sexually abusing her. During the course of that kidnap, Becky was killed by Mr Matthews.

It is not completely clear what role Ms Hoare played in relation to Becky’s death, but it appears to have been on the basis that she was aware that there was an awareness on her part of a risk that Becky would be harmed rather than any intention that she should be.

After this, over a period of days, the couple dismembered Becky’s body and later moved it to a shed (this lead to the charge of preventing a lawful burial).

Both Mr Matthews and Ms Hoare told the police at various times that they did not know where Ms Watts was. This lead to the charges of Perverting the Course of Justice.

Two further people – Karl Demetrius and Jaydene Parsons, had previously pleaded guilty to Assisting an Offender. It is not quite clear what they did, but it seems that they were the occupants of the property where the shed was located.

 

Sentencing

They were sentenced as follows –

Nathan Matthews :

  • Murder -Life, with a 33 year tariff
  • Conspiracy (with SH) to Kidnap – no separate penalty
  • Perverting the Course of Justice – no separate penalty
  • Preventing a Lawful Burial – no separate penalty

Total – Life imprisonment with a 33 year tariff

Shauna Hoare :

  • Manslaughter – 17 years
  • Conspiracy (with NM) to Kidnap – 10 years concurrent
  • Perverting the Course of Justice – 2 years concurrent
  • Preventing a Lawful Burial – 3 years concurrent
  • Possession of a prohibited weapon (2 stun guns) – 2 years concurrent

Total – 17 years

 

Karl Demetrius :

  • Assisting an Offender – Sentence Adjourned

 

Jaydene Parsons :

  • Assisting an Offender – Sentence Adjourned

 

Comment

The Sentencing Remarks have been published by CrimeLine. Some parts have been removed for understandable reasons.

We said yesterday that Mr Matthews would probably have a 30 year starting point, which is what, in fact, the Judge took. There was some speculation that he would get a whole life tariff, but the Judge gave good reasons why this should not be.

Given the circumstances of the case, it is hard to argue with the uplift imposed, and whilst Mr Matthews will probably appeal (nothing to lose really), we doubt that he will get far.

In relation to Ms Hoare, the sentence was, as we predicted, a very lengthy one. Given that there was no intention to kill or cause really serious harm, the sentence is longer that we would have thought.

Having said that, given that the Judge heard all the facts in this high profile case, we doubt that the Court of Appeal would interfere with the sentence.

One point to note is in relation to the sentence of Ms Hoare and the stun gun. It appears from the Routes to Verdict that this was a stun gun disguised as a torch. If so, then this offence is probably under s5(1A)(a) Firearms Act 1968.

If so, then this attracts the mandatory 5 year minimum sentence, so the sentence of 2 years that was passed would be unlawful. Even if that is the case, then in the scheme of things this probably doesn’t matter (a Judge can reduce the 5 year sentence if there are exceptional circumstances).

In relation to the other two defendants, it seems that Ms Parsons is currently unfit to attend Court and her case was put off 2016 for sentence. In the circumstances, the sentencing of Mr Demetrius was likewise adjourned.

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

1 COMMENT

  1. What snippets have found there way into the press suggest this murder was particularly savage with the victim being dismembered by two weirdo’s. The reports alleged that Hoare had much more to do with this but the evidence was not sufficient. Once again we have the spectre of concurrent sentences rather than consecutive. In a crime this serious I just do not understand why this leniency is shown.

    My view as normal and in these particular circumstances is that Matthews should get the death penalty and I would give her a whole life tariff. I know we don’t have it anymore but in cases like this its a shame that we don’t. Instead the public will be forced to pay to keep these individuals incarcerated at great expense.

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