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.
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.
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.
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.