Edward Tenniswood jailed for rape and murder of India Chipchase

Edward Tenniswood jailed for rape and murder of India Chipchase

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Photo from the BBC

Introduction 

On 31st January 2016 the police found the body of 20 year old India Chipchase under a plastic sheet in a house belonging to Edward Tenniswood in Northamptonshire. The cause of death was asphyxia.

On 2nd August 2016 Mr Tenniswood, a 52 year old ‘oddball’, was found guilty of her rape and murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

 

Factual Background

In the early hours of 30th January, Ms Chipcase, who had been out in a nightclub in Northampton and was very drunk (her blood alcohol limit was three times the drink drive limit), was spotted by Mr Tenniswood.

He approached her and “put his arm around her“, although witnesses said that there was no reciprocation.

After 20 minutes or so, Mr Tenniswood lead Ms Chipcase to a taxi and took her back to his house. There he raped and strangled her.

Mr Tenniswood denied both offences, saying that Ms Chipcase was a willing participant in the sexual activity, and “he had throttled Miss Chipchase a result of his “over-eagerness” in bed.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the jury did not accept this, finding Mr Tenniswood guilty unanimously after less than two hours of deliberation (a very short time for something as serious as a murder case).

 

Sentence

The only sentence for murder is life imprisonment, the question for the Judge was what the tariff – the minimum period of time that Mr Tenniswood would have to spend in prison before he can be considered for release, was.

Here, the starting point is 30 years due to the fact that the murder involved ‘sexual conduct’.

We don’t have the sentencing remarks, but from the news reports, Mr Tenniswood received a tariff of 30 years. This is what we would have expected.

There was a concurrent sentence of 12 years for the rape. Why concurrent? Put simply, this is because the 30 year starting point reflects the conduct that founded the charge of rape.

The Judge would therefore have taken the starting point of 30 years and looked at the aggravating and mitigating features, to see whether to go up or down from that.

We wil have a look at it again if and when the Sentencing Remarks are published, but the Judge heard the trial and would have been well placed to assess the various factors.

There will probably be an appeal – Mr Tenniswood has little to lose, but there is nothing wrong with the sentence on the face of it.

In some ways, it is all pretty academic. As Mr Tenniswood is 52, this means that he will not be able to be even considered for release until he is 82. In reality, almost nobody gets out ‘on tariff’ so a year or so on the minimum term probably won’t make much of a difference. It is likely that Mr Tenniswood will die in prison.

 

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

9 COMMENTS

  1. Another case where the behaviour of men and their warped sexuality makes me shudder. India should be allowed to be out and drunk if she wished to be without paying for it with her life.

    • It’s a horrible incident. I don’t know his previous or whether there was any signs of this behaviour.

      Obviously everyone should be allowed out and about as drunk as they like, but I don’t think anybody is suggesting otherwise.

      • Let me rephrase. I’m devasted that young women (any woman) aren’t safe out there and secondly it’s not other women who are the danger.

  2. I’d like to ask a question.

    When the police broke into Tenniswood’s home they first assumed that India was just asleep. Had she survied and presumably by then it’s 22+ hours since her last drink there would have been little or no trace of alcohol in her system, isn’t it possible that his defence of rough consensual sex, at her request, would highly probably have gotten him off a rape charge.

  3. It would have depended on what impression he made and what impression she made in the witness box.

    I don’t know whether to hope (1) that this abomination lives and serves every day of the thirty and is then refused parole or (2) that one of the other guests of the taxpayer decides to reduce his sentence and send him out of the gates early feet first.

    • A bit like you Andrew I waiver between options 1 and 2 but I guess option 1 but only marginally.

  4. It’s possible that he would have got off. But anything is possible I guess. In this case it would have been his word against hers, but the evidence of her heavy intoxication beforehand and the other circumstances of the case would mean I wouldn’t have rated his chances of an acquittal.

    After all, here he got convicted without her being able to testify – unless she was a very bad witness it’s unlikely to have got better for him, and the outcome would have been the same (albeit with a still severe, but much lower, sentence).

  5. Andrew/Dan I’ve been mulling this over all day… accept first I’m not a lawyer so my questions are sloppy but you’ll get my drift…

    q) cctv shows you chatting to him without freely/easily?
    a) yes
    q) You got in the cab with him?
    a) yes
    q) cctv shows no signs of force or coercion do you agree?
    a) yes
    q) cab driver’s evidence is that you engaged in conversation during the trip?
    a) yes
    q) he reports that you showed no signs of fear or disstress?
    a) yes
    q) you entered his home of your own freewill?
    a) er I think so, I can’t remember, I was drunk
    q) you weren’t staggering when you got in the cab?
    a) er no I can’t remember I was drunk
    q) are you asking us to believe that once inside his house he changed?
    a) yes
    q)you’ve told us you were drunk and you can’t remember anything?
    a) yes
    q) how can you remember this sudden change in his personality?
    a) er…. I just know I would never have consented to that.
    q) so now we have clarity and suddenly you remember that you didn’t consent. Isn’t that rather convenient?
    a) er
    q) in truth you woke up and regretted what had happened didn’t you…

    It seems to me she wouldn’t even have had to be a bad witness for even a mediocre defence barrister to tie her up in knots. Doesn’t this demonstrate the inequity and injustice of the judicial system towards rape victims who don’t die and who live to tell the tale. My bet is had he not murdered her (as in the case of Pacteau’s first victim (alleged)) he would have been acquitted.

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