In November 2003 Patrick Curran, who had a sexual fetish towards older woman, made a sexual advance towards Joan Roddam. She rebuffed this and, as a result of the anger this triggered, or to ensure her silence, Mr Curran strangled her.
At the time there was some circumstantial evidence against Mr Curran, but not enough to charge him. Last year, advances in forensic technology lead to the case being looked at again, and the proverbial ‘1 in a billion’ DNA match to the blanket that Ms Roddam was wrapped in after she was killed (and, probably less significantly, fibres found at the scene matched Mr Curran’s clothing).
Although Mr Curran denied responsibility for the killing, he was convicted of murder and sentenced on 27th January 2015 to life imprisonment with a tariff of 18 years.
Seems rather low doesn’t it?
On the face of it, considering that it was probably ‘involving sexual or sadistic conduct‘ or was done to ‘obstruct or interfere with the course of justice‘, it should attract a 30 year starting point (see here for our fact sheet on how murder tariffs are calculated)?
We don’t have the sentencing remarks, and so don’t know what the judge found in relation to this, but the first thing to note was that the murder was in 2003. This was before the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that hugely increased sentences for murder.
The starting point for Mr Curran would have been the sentence at the time. Assuming it was seen as the more serious murder, then the starting point would have been 16 years. In that sense, we are left with an unexplained increase of 2 years (we don’t know much about the facts of the murder or Mr Curran’s previous convictions as two reasons that could explain it).
So. Whilst he would probably have got a tariff about ten years longer, had the offence been committed now, in the circumstances the sentence he got is easily explicable.
In any event, that is the minimum period – it may well be that Mr Curran is not released until much longer than that if he presents a risk to the public.