Lewis Daynes pleads guilty to murdering Breck Bednar

Lewis Daynes pleads guilty to murdering Breck Bednar

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Introduction

Lewis Daynes, a 19 year old computer engineer (18 at the time of the offence), was due to stand trial for the murder of Breck Bednar, a 14 year old boy who was found stabbed to death after stating that he was going out for a sleepover with a friend.

Details are a bit unclear, all we know are that they appear to have met playing an online video game, and that after Breck’s death “police became aware of a Facebook post saying the schoolboy had met someone “he thought wanted to be his friend”.

The sentence has been adjourned to next year (where we will come back and have a look at it). The only other detail (which is important – see below) is that “the prosecution’s case [is] that the murder “involved a sexual, sadistic motivation.”

 

What will he get?

The only sentence for murder is life imprisonment (or, as it will be called in this case because of Mr Daynes’ age – detention for life). The question for the Judge will be what tariff – minimum period – Mr Daynes will be required to serve in prison before he can be considered for release.

The prosecution have set out their stall – the murder has a sexual motive. If the Judge accepts that, then the starting point will be 30 years. Otherwise (probably) 15 years. We say ‘probably’ because it may be that there was a knife brought to the scene, which would give a starting point of 25 years.

Either way, there will have to be credit for a plea of guilty. In this case (a plea on the day of trial) probably about 10%. Allowance will have to be made for his youth as well. Much will depend on the exact facts, especially whether there was a sexual motive and whether this was a planned offence.

 

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

2 COMMENTS

  1. (Speaking here as an interested layman with no legal training.)

    I am curious as to why he did not get nearer to 30 years. I have not seen the sentencing remarks, but the judge stated that she accepted that there was a sexual or sadistic motive, which puts the starting point at 30 years. There is no reason to make further adjustment for the offender’s youth, because the statutory starting point already reflects this (as it would be a whole-life order if he had been over 21). The Sentencing Council guidelines say that the reduction in minimum term for a guilty plea in murder cases should be only half that used when passing determinate sentences, ranging from a maximum of a sixth down to 5% for a late plea (in contrast to the usual third to 10%). I believe that the mathematical argument behind this guideline is flawed: Its stated basis is that only half of a determinate sentence would normally be served, but I dispute it because to have the same effect as deducting a given percentage from the equivalent determinate sentence, e.g. deducting 6 years off a 60-year sentence for a late plea, the *same* percentage would need to be deducted from the minimum term, in this case 3 years off a 30-year minimum term. Nonetheless, for better or worse those are the guidelines, so absent other aggravation or mitigation we would be looking at 30 years minus a 5% deduction, giving a net minimum term of 28.5 years. Defence made something of the Asperger’s syndrome, but to reach a figure of 25 would require a fair bit of additional mitigation: let’s say at least 2 or 3 years’ worth even allowing for time spent on remand (presumably since Feb 2014) and a bit of favourable rounding. Bear in mind that he attempted to destroy evidence and was by all accounts clearly very devious in his dealings with the police, which ought to count as aggravation.

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