Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 11:26 UK

Pc killer wins life term appeal

David Bieber
Bieber shot Pc Broadhurst despite him pleading for his life

A former US marine who murdered a policeman has won an appeal against his "whole life" prison sentence.

David Bieber shot Pc Ian Broadhurst in the head at close range in Leeds on Boxing Day 2003, despite the officer pleading for his life.

The Court of Appeal said that the facts of Bieber's case, "horrifying though they were", did not justify a "life means life" sentence.

The American, 42, was told he will now serve a minimum of 37 years in jail.

Three judges headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, rejected an argument by Bieber's defence lawyers that whole-life jail terms in principle amounted to a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that no-one shall be subjected to "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".

Attempted murder

In 2004 Bieber was found guilty by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court of the murder of Pc Broadhurst, 34.

He was also convicted of the attempted murders of Pc Broadhurst's colleagues, Pc Neil Roper and Pc James Banks.

Ian Broadhurst
The policeman was shot dead on Boxing Day 2003

He became one of only 25 people at the time to have been given a whole-life sentence in England and Wales.

In October 2006, the Court of Appeal rejected Bieber's appeal against his convictions, saying the evidence against him was "overwhelming".

Lord Phillips, sitting with Mr Justice Pitchford and Mrs Justice Dobbs, said Bieber's lawyers had argued that an irreducible life sentence, with no prospect of release and regardless of any progress made by the prisoner towards rehabilitation, amounted to inhuman treatment.

But the judge said the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had so far not held that an irreducible life sentence breached Article 3, although its approach to the issue might change in future.

In any event, he said a whole life term should not be regarded as irreducible because the Home Secretary had the power to order a prisoner's release on compassionate grounds - for instance, when an inmate was terminally ill or incapacitated.

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