Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 15:52 UK

Killer's maximum tariff reduced

Scales of justice
Mark Steven Smith could be released on parole in five years

A man who abducted, sexually attacked and strangled a young, female, Royal Navy photographer has won a two-year reduction in his minimum tariff.

A High Court judge ruled that the 18-year tariff set by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett was not "judicially supportable".

It means Steven Mark Smith, 41, could get parole in five years.

He killed 23-year-old Tammy Williams in 1997, after grabbing her from a Plymouth taxi rank.

'Devastation and loss'

The judge, Mr Justice Clarke said he had read moving statements from Ms Williams' mother and aunt.

He said: "These vividly describe the feelings of devastation and loss which they and other members of the family... have suffered."

The judge added that members of the family had "understandably expressed great concern." that Smith's tariff was to be reviewed.

The length to be set should not be compared with the value of the life lost, which is priceless
Mr Justice Clarke

"The feelings of the surviving members of the family are wholly understandable, but I hope that they in their turn can understand that the length of the minimum term to be set is not intended to be, and should not be, compared with the value of the life lost, which is priceless".

Even once he has completed his tariff, Smith will only be freed if he can convince the parole board it is safe to do so.

Epileptic seizure

The 7ft (2.13m) tall man was originally convicted of the murder in 1998.

Ms Williams, who was based at HMS Drake in Plymouth, had been waiting at a taxi rank after a night out in the city.

Smith forced her back to his flat, tried to have sex with her, killed her and hid her body in a cupboard.

His conviction was later overturned after he claimed he was suffering from an epileptic seizure at the time of her death.

He was jailed for life after finally admitting murder at his retrial in July 2000.

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