On 29th April 2014 Mark Dyson, then aged 55, returned to his home in Adlington which he shared with his wife Carole (aged 53), and strangled her. In the next few days, concerns were raised about her safety and her body was found when Police attended her address.
It seems that Mr “Dyson had suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the premature death of the couple’s 15-year-old daughter and also a rare condition which caused him to believe he was in constant pain”.
Mrs Dyson appears to have been his carer. There was a history of Mr Dyson being violent and abusive, but not for ‘many years’.
The cause of the murder appears to have been “when his wife refused to wait for him to get up when the couple were due to go out. He strangled her with his bare hands and then possibly smothered her with a pillow.
He then walked to nearby Chorley Hospital and told staff “something terrible” had happened. He said he had been in pain for some time and his wife had been “nasty” to him”.
The only sentence available was the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The question for the Judge was how long the tariff, the minimum period of time that Mr Dyson should serve before he can be considered for release, should be.
In this case, there do not appear to be any of the aggravating features. The only mitigating feature that is apparent is Mr Dyson’s mental health. For that reason, we would expect that the Judge would have taken the starting point of 15 years and reduced it by a little bit to reflect that. This would give a tariff of 14 years or so.
So far, so good. However, Mr Dyson pleaded guilty. It was not at the first available opportunity, but he did accept his responsibility for the homicide of his wife straight away. In light of that, he should receive a fair amount of credit.
The maximum credit for murder is 1/6th (rather than the usual 1/3rd) up to a maximum of 5 years. It is an interesting question whether the reduction in credit in cases like Mr Dyson should start at a third or not.
Assuming that it doesn’t, there should still have been a reduction in the region of about two years. For that reason, the 14-year tariff is longer than we would have thought. Whether the Court of Appeal will interfere with it is a different matter. Firstly, there may well be matters not in the news reports that we are not aware of. Secondly, as the Courts are fond of saying, “sentencing is an art, not a science”.
Nevertheless, we would expect that Mr Dyson will try to appeal the sentence. We’ll keep you up to date.