Introduction and Facts
Some case are so disturbing that you wonder if you are reading a fiction novel rather than a news report. One example is that of Garth Anderson who was jailed on 16th May 2016.
Mr Anderson is a self-confessed (or perhaps more accurately a self-proclaimed) cannibal. He has “an obsession with cannibalism, vampires and serial killers and had previously drunk his own blood“.
On the morning of 1st January 2016 he attacked Euan Turner, a stranger who was laughing at him (for reasons unknown). Mr Anderson attacked Mr Turner and bit off the bottom third of his ear.
That is bad enough, but after that Mr Anderson put it in his pocket and, when the police arrived, said “I bit his ear off and I ate it. I am a cannibal“. He then said ‘yum yum’ and, when the police found the ear, said “It was chewy. I was saving it for later“.
When he was arrested, Mr Anderson gave his name as Richard Trenton, an American serial killer. He later pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent. There were three other assaults, but there are no details of those.
Mr Anderson was found ‘dangerous’ and sentenced to an Extended Sentence. This comprised of a 6 year custodial part (reflecting we think 9 years, but with a third off for the plea of guilty) and a 5 year extended period.
This means that he will not be released automatically half way through his sentence, but he will have to apply to the Parole Board after serving 2/3 of the custodial part – 4 years. He can be kept in up to the full 6 years.
After release, he will be on licence until the end of the 11 year (6 years +5 year extended licence) period, which means that he can be recalled during that period of time.
Looking at the Sentencing Guidelines, it’s hard to know exactly where it fits. We would guess that the Judge took it as Lesser Harm as, although the injury was serious, it was not necessarily serious within the context of the s18 offence.
It is probably Higher Culpability possibly as the use of teeth could be seen as a weapon, but also as the violence was “more than was necessary“.
This puts it as a Category 2 offence, with a starting point of 6 years, and a range up to 9 years.
It does seem that this is one of those cases where it would be appropriate to go outside the Guidelines. It was a brutal and deeply disturbing offence.
Although you have to be a bit careful to not increase the sentence to reflect the fact that Mr Anderson would appear to be dangerous (that is the point of the extended sentence), it seems that a starting point of 9 years is hard to argue with (in any event, it may have been less than that with a later guilty plea).
And as for dangerousness? Looking at the facts of it, it is hard to argue that he appears to be a very dangerous individual. In fact, when one first reads of it, a life sentence would not have been obviously out of order. The Judge obviously has access to a lot more information of course, and we would not expect the sentence to be challenged successfully.