Jayden Parkinson – minimum 20 years for Ben Blakeley

Jayden Parkinson – minimum 20 years for Ben Blakeley

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Photo from the BBC
Photo from the BBC

Introduction 

On 25th July 2014, Ben Blakeley was found guilty of the murder of Jayden Parkinson, his former partner. His brother, Jake Blakely has admitted perverting the course of justice and had stood trial for preventing the lawful burial of Ms Parkinson. The jury could not agree on this charge, and it seems that there will not be a re-trial.

 

Facts

Mr Blakely and Ms Parkinson had been in a relationship that was marked by violence and jealousy on his part. This was ended on 21st November 2013 by Ms Parkinson. She later found out that she was pregnant with Mr Blakely’s child and agreed to meet up to explain this to him and offer access to the child. Mr Blakely threatened to put naked videos and pictures of Ms Parkinson on the internet. This was reported to the police on 27th November.

There was a further meeting on 3rd December from which Ms Parkinson did not return.

Mr Blakely strangled her and disposed of her body, firstly in a ditch near where she was killed, and then later in his uncle’s grave (this was with the assistance of Jake) where it was found two weeks later.

 

Sentence

The sentencing remarks were put up on the internet commendably quickly, and are well worth the read. I’m biased (from my appearances in front of him), but HHJ Eccles is an excellent, thorough and very fair minded Judge, and his sentencing remarks are typically clear and precise.

The headline figure is that the minimum term that was set was 20 years. The only sentence that can be passed is life imprisonment, but the calculation of the tariff is a complicated business.

The Judge took a starting point of 15 years. There were two aggravating features identified. Firstly, Mr Blakeley’s previous violence towards Ms Parkinson and secondly, the way that he tried to dispose of her body, and the repeated lies to the police.

The Judge determined that this merited an increase of 7 years.

In mitigation, the Judge felt that the offence was not premeditated, and there was no intention to kill. Also, Mr Blakeley had written a letter of remorse from prison and it seemed that there is an indication that there was an acknowledgement that he had done wrong (this is seen as well in that he accepted that he was guilty of manslaughter and the trial issue was only in relation to his intention). Lastly, Mr Blakeley was still young, and had suffered various abuses in his childhood.

This merited a reduction of 2 years, balancing this out gave the tariff of 20 years.

 

Comment

The murder of Ms Parkinson was a horrible one, but the Goldilocks question – is 20 years too long, not long enough, or about right?

Firstly. It’s pretty unlikely that the Court will interfere. The Judge heard the case and was best placed to form a view.

A couple of points spring to mind – the previous violence was raised in Court, but as it does not appear to have been the subject of a charge at any time, as a matter of principle it is not clear if it is appropriate to increase the tariff because of unproved allegations.

Secondly, we would have thought that a slightly larger discount would have been given for the mitigating factors, especially the fact that there was an admission of responsibility for the murder.

Putting those two together, we would have expected a tariff of 17-18 years, rather than the 20 years that was passed. But, as stated, we don’t think that he will get anywhere with an appeal on this one.

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

10 COMMENTS

  1. Difficult to second guess Eccles; he’s a true pro. His decision to disregard matters not on the Indictment was correct. Best mitigation: he didn’t mean to kill her. In those circumstances, despite appearing light in view of the horrible graveyard goings-on, the sentence seems bang on

  2. Why a man with a history of violence against women, whether charged for it or not, can be deemed to have not set out with pre-mediation to kill this time rather than injure seems to fly in the face of all reason. What logic is it that says because he had never stood in court and been found guilty therefore this particular violent behaviour should have no bearing on his sentence. When he gets out of prison in his forties he will, unlike Jayden, be free to live a full and useless existence. I don’t care how fair minded and well respected the judge is, if he believes unpunished domestic violence should be disregarded then he is part of the problem that sees two women per week year in year out are killed by their partner or ex partner. And to the answer the question, no, 20 years is not enough. Indeterminate.

    • The judge’s hands are tied. If the CPS don’t prosecute it then he can’t be sentenced for it. Probably wouldn’t have made much difference anyway. And life with 20 is indeterminate.

  3. Indeterminate: “uncertain in extent, amount or nature”, “not definite”, unable to be predicted, calculated or deduced. Nowhere does the dictionary define it as “life with 20” this definition perhaps applies solely in the inscrutable world of lawyers meanwhile here in the real world…

    • It is “uncertain in extent, amount or nature” as there is no end point, no way of knowing when the sentence will end. It ends when he dies, whenever that may be.

      Also uncertain is the amount of time he will be in prison for. We know if cannot be less than 20 years. It’s a safe bet that it will be significantly more, but we don’t know how long.

    • The world of a criminal legal aid lawyer is far more real than you could possibly imagine. And we don’t just defend these violent “useless” men, we prosecute them too and see to it, if the evidence is there and it is in the public interest to proceed, that they are put away

  4. Given that the jury found him guilty of murder, was it right for the judge to sentence on the basis he had no intention to kill?

    • Yes, because you are guilty of murder even if you did not intend to kill someone (in fact, even if you were specifically intending not to kill them). There needs to be an intention to kill or an intention to do really serious harm.

      • Indeed, but in the circumstances (strangulation – which it is difficult to imagine doing with intent to serious injury rather than death, and disposal of the body immediately afterwards) it’s questionable to suppose that the intent of which the jury was satisfied was merely serious harm.

        Of course, in an ideal world, the jury would be asked as part of the verdict which level,of intent they found. Otherwise, as here, the judge may feel inclined to give a rather perverse-looking benefit of the doubt.

        Alternatively, while a clear intent to kill, premeditation etc should be an aggravating factor, that doesn’t mean that where no such intent is obvious that this should be a mitigating factor.

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