Daniel Crompton jailed for life – an AG Reference beckons?

Daniel Crompton jailed for life – an AG Reference beckons?

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Compton

Facts and Sentence

On 18th March 2014 Daniel Crompton, was jailed for life for the murder of Frank Worsley. The crime was brutal and cowardly – Mr Crompton broke into the home of Mr Worsley, an 87 widower, last August. Mr Crompton had been drinking and taking drugs and, it seems, was seeking money to feed his drug addiction.

Inside the house, he demanded money from Mr Worsley, repeatedly punching him in the head and face, before leaving with his bank book, wallet and chequebook. He pleaded guilty to that robbery, as well as another burglary that he had committed earlier the same night. The news reports seem to suggest that he was charged with robbery and burglary of Mr Worsley’s house, but that can’t be right – whilst he would have been guilty of both, if both were charged then this would be a duplication. It is unclear if there was a separate burglary.

In any event, Mr Crompton denied the murder. On what basis it is not clear – given that he accepted robbing Mr Worsley and Mr Worsley died several weeks later after suffering a stroke from this attack, it may be that Mr Crompton was disputing that he was the cause of the death, we don’t know.

He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment – the only sentence available to the judge. The question for him would be the length of the tariff. Here, the tariff was set at 18 years. That is the minimum period of time Mr Crompton will have to spend in prison before he can be considered for release.

Comment

18 years in prison is clearly a long time, and it may well be that Mr Crompton will be inside for longer than that, but was the tariff too short?

Looking at our factsheet for setting the tariffs for murder, the starting point of 30 years will apply, amongst other circumstances, when there is “a murder done for gain (such as a murder done in the course or furtherance of robbery or burglary, done for payment or done in the expectation of gain as a result of the death”

How does Mr Crompton not fall into this category? The short answer is that we don’t know as we don’t have the sentencing remarks. We would have expected the starting point as being 30 years.

From this, it may be that there was no intention to kill and a reduction could properly be made if the only issue for the jury was causation – ie, if Mr Crompton accepted that he had done what was alleged, but the question of his guilt depending on the analysis of expert evidence.

Even so, we would be surprised if the reduction took it lower than 27 years. In those circumstances, the tariff of 18 years seems substantially too short. So short in fact, that there may be a Prosecution appeal of the sentence.

The starting point of 30 years is only a starting point (and only a guideline) of course, so there may be matters that we are not aware of that means the 18 year tariff is spot on. Without the sentencing remarks however, there’s not much we can say, other than that Mr Crompton may count himself, ironically for someone serving a life sentence, somewhat lucky.

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

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