We reported on 16th December 2013 that Mark Bridger was to appeal against the whole life tariff imposed on him for the murder of April Jones last year.
Whilst looking at that, we commented that ‘Mr Bridger has nothing to lose by trying‘ to appeal (see here for a factsheet on how the Court of Appeal works) and that an appeal was to be expected. There is, literally, nothing that the British state can now do to Mr Bridger by way of additional punishment.
The question of the legality of whole life tariffs will be considered by the Court of Appeal on 24th January 2014 (see our analysis here) and Mr Bridger’s case was to be heard then.
On 13th January 2014 it was announced (somewhat to our surprise) that Mr Bridger had dropped his application to appeal against the sentence.
What happens on 24th January?
The appeal will carry on without Mr Bridger. Because there are other cases listed, it will be possible for the issue to be resolved.
Why would he abandon his appeal?
We don’t know (to put it shortly). As stated, there is nothing that he has to lost by appealing. It may be that he thinks (or was advised) that there was little chance of success. Whilst that is true, because there is little consequence in carrying on, this doesn’t quite explain it.
What happens if the other appeal are allowed?
This question of when a change in the law initiated by Judges can be retrospective is a very complicated one. In relation to this it may be more straightforward.
Whilst we expect the Court of Appeal to uphold whole life tariffs, by the time it could be remotely relevant for Mr Bridger (at least 25 years from now), we would anticipate that the law in the UK will have changed. This will probably be by allowing for a review after 25 years.
This will have to apply not only to people sentenced after that date, but also to people like Mr Bridger. For that reason, it may be that Mr Bridger thought that whilst there was nothing to lose, there is nothing to gain by appealing either.