It is very rare that people plead guilty to murder (here’s an explanation of why not), so we thought we’d have a quick look at the case of Stuart Millership, who was sentenced to life imprisonment with a tariff of 25 years for the murder of Baljit Singh on 27th July 2015.
It’s not entirely clear what the relationship between Mr Milllership and Mr Singh was, but around Christmas last year it seems that Mr Millership attempted to steal Mr Singh’s Range Rover. During an argument over this, Mr Millership launched a “sustained and frenzied killing with a bread knife and an iron bar“.
He then left the body at his house, where it lay for more than a week until the police discovered it.
Mr Millership pleaded guilty (it is not clear whether this was at the earliest opportunity or not, but it would appear so). He said that he was a bit player in an attack over a drug debt lead by two Albanians.
This was not accepted by the Prosecution and so there was a ‘Newton‘ hearing – a hearing where the Judge sits alone to listen to the evidence to determine whether he can be sure that the defence version of events is correct.
In this case, the Judge ruled that the attack was carried out by Mr Millership on his own.
We haven’t got the full remarks, but we imagine that this was a murder done for gain, so attracting a starting point of 30 years. Although hiding the body would be an aggravating feature, it is probably subsumed in the higher starting point.
There would be some credit for the plea of guilty, but the maximum would be 5 years. Typically, there will be a reduction in credit where someone has a Newton hearing and loses.
So the sentence is actually a little lower than we would have thought. But this is only when you have a mathematical approach to the sentence. The Judge heard Mr Millership give evidence over a period of time and it may be that there are other factors that took the sentence down from the starting point of 30 years.
Or it may be that it was determined that this was not done for gain, so the ‘lower’ starting point of 15 years applied, but the other factors increased the seriousness of it, although it is hard to see that it would take it up to 25 years.
It may be that more information becomes available in the next day or so to resolve this …