Page last updated at 17:08 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 18:08 UK

Student murder sentences examined

onnex (left) and Nigel Farmer
Dano Sonnex (l) and Nigel Farmer had denied murder

The Attorney General will consider whether the sentences given to two men who tortured and murdered two French students were "unduly lenient".

Dano Sonnex, 23, from Peckham, south London, and Nigel Farmer, 33, murdered Gabriel Ferez and Laurent Bonomo, both 23, in New Cross, south-east London.

They both received life sentences, with Sonnex ordered to serve at least 40 years and Farmer at least 35 years.

Baroness Scotland may now refer the matter to the Court of Appeal.

The students suffered hundreds of stab wounds after being tied up in their bedsit during the "truly horrific" attack on 29 June 2008.

Their room was then set alight.

During their Old Bailey trial, prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said the students had been tortured and murdered because Sonnex and Farmer were unable to get cash from a machine using one of the students' bank cards.

Both men were found guilty of murder.

Gabriel Ferez and Laurent Bonomo
Students Gabriel Ferez and Laurent Bonomo were tied up and stabbed

Farmer was also found guilty of burglary, a charge Sonnex had already admitted. Both men were also convicted of false imprisonment and arson.

Trial judge Mr Justice Saunders ruled that they should one day be eligible for release because of their young ages.

He told the court: "To condemn someone to be incarcerated for what in the case of Sonnex could be 60 years is a terrible punishment, although it could be justified for such a terrible crime."

After they were sentenced last week, the families of the two young scientists said Sonnex and Farmer should die in prison.

It emerged after the trial that a catalogue of failures by probation workers, police and prison staff had led to Sonnex being released on bail before the murders.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw apologised over the blunders and London's chief probation officer David Scott resigned.

On Thursday a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office said: "We have called for the case papers to consider whether the matter is one that should be referred to the Court of Appeal to consider as unduly lenient."

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