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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007, 03:52 GMT
Huntley 'should die behind bars'
Soham murderer Ian Huntley
Soham murderer Ian Huntley, given minimum 40-year term
Soham murderer Ian Huntley should die in jail because the "public would expect that", the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer has suggested.

In a Sunday Telegraph interview, he said Huntley was among a category of killers who should never be freed.

Society requires "retribution" in such cases and needs to have confidence in the criminal justice system, he added.

Huntley, 33, got a 40-year minimum sentence in 2003 for the 2002 murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I think sentences should be proportional to the severity of the offence and should not pander to populist demands
Duncan, Oxford

The Lord Chancellor's remarks follow a row prompted by the Lord Chief Justice's support for an end to mandatory life terms for murderers.

"There will be some people who I think should stay in prison for the rest of their natural life," Lord Falconer told the paper.

"They should still stay in because the heinousness of their crime means that the public would expect that.

"(Lord Phillips) referred to geriatric lifers - well, there will be some and I think if you want confidence in the system that's got to be the position."

Lord Falconer also cited the case of another child killer, Robert Black, who was jailed for a minimum of 35 years in 1994 and that of Moors murderer Ian Brady, serving a "whole life" tariff.

He said they were "three obvious examples" of people who should never be released.

Lord Falconer
Lord Falconer also said low-level offenders could serve shorter terms

"It is both because of dangerousness but it is also because society does require retribution in those sorts of cases and if it doesn't get it then people will not be confident of the criminal justice system."

Lord Falconer said low-level offenders with alcohol and drugs problems could serve reduced jail terms if they were better treated and properly monitored in the community.

"The right course is to take every step necessary to make sure they don't reoffend which may involve shorter sentences," he said.

In a speech at the University of Birmingham earlier this month, Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said prisons risked becoming "full of geriatric lifers" in future.

He said government guidelines were "ratcheting up" the length of time some murderers would spend in prison.

But the most senior judge in England and Wales did not mention any individual cases by name in the speech.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt told ITV's Sunday Edition programme that it was not for ministers to decide the timing of a prisoner's release.

But she added: "I have to say as a mother myself I would absolutely echo Charlie Falconer's view."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage of Ian Huntley before he went to prison



SEE ALSO
The history of life
16 Jun 06 |  Magazine
Huntley: Does life mean life?
18 Dec 03 |  UK Politics
Reid hits back in sentencing row
26 Jan 07 |  UK Politics
Falconer backs judges in jail row
15 Jun 06 |  UK Politics

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