In 1991 David Mitchell received a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend. He had progressed through the prison system and was in an open prison in 2012 when he went AWOL. He was at large for less than 24 hours before being recaptured.
It’s not entirely clear when he was re-released, but in December 2013 he was in the community (whether on day release or otherwise) when he killed Robert Hind, a convicted sex offender.
On 9th June 2014 Mr Mitchell pleaded guilty to murder. Sentencing has been adjourned. Details are sketchy as to Mr Mitchell’s motives and exactly how the murder occurred, but we do know that Mr Hind ‘had died of head injuries and strangulation‘ and his remains were found in a river a few days after he had been killed.
What sentence will Mr Mitchell get?
Well, the mandatory sentence for murder is the life sentence. The key question is what tariff will Mr Mitchell get. Looking at the different starting points, because Mr Mitchell has a previous conviction for murder, the starting point is a whole life tariff.
The Judge will not be bound to pass a whole life tariff, but that will be the starting point. We don’t know why the sentence was adjourned – it could be to get psychiatric or other reports to see whether a whole life tariff is needed.
We will have a look when he is sentenced, but Mr Mitchell is now 46. If he doesn’t get a whole life tariff, he will get a tariff of around 40 years we would imagine. Either way, he won’t be going anywhere soon, and we imagine that he would only be released at the end of his life if he is terminally ill.
Does this show that people who get a life sentence shouldn’t be released?
No. You can’t extrapolate from one case to a general penal policy.