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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Child killer must serve 16 years
Rosie Palmer
The youngster's body was found hidden in a wardrobe
A psychopath who mutilated and murdered a three-year-old girl more than 10 years ago must serve at least 16 years in jail, a High Court judge ruled.

Shaun Armstrong, then 33, was jailed for life in July 1995 after pleading guilty to murdering Rosie Palmer.

He abducted her in June 1994 after she went to buy an ice lolly from a van outside her home in Hartlepool.

After a review of the minimum term set at his sentencing, Mr Justice Crane concluded it should remain at 16 years.

Police found the youngster's body hidden in a wardrobe at Armstrong's flat three days after she disappeared. He was described as having a "severely disordered personality".

'Gross violation'

Mr Justice Crane said: "Having regard to all the relevant factors I conclude that the minimum term should be 16 years, as was the tariff set, subject to a deduction of 12 months and 21 days for the period on remand."

He said Rosie had been subjected to "gross violation" and it was the trial judge's view she "had almost certainly died because Armstrong suffocated her when she cried out at the assault".

The judge said a minimum term would likely to have been 28 years and six months on today's principles and even if greater weight was given to his mental state, a term of not less than 25 years would be inevitable.

But he said: "The minimum term was not open to criticism on the principles that applied at the time."

Armstrong, who was 32 at the time of the murder, had been under a hospital's care since March 1992 and re-housed on the council estate where Rosie lived.

He would be able to apply for parole in June 2010, but would only be released if a parole board was satisfied he no longer posed any risk to the public.


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