Page last updated at 00:15 GMT, Thursday, 12 June 2008 01:15 UK

Families call for tough sentences

Demonstrators outside 10 Downing Street
Families spoke of the 'life sentences' they faced

Bereaved families have marched in London to demand tougher sentencing for the perpetrators of violent crime.

The 40 families and their supporters heard a roll-call of victims' names in Whitehall Place before observing a minute's silence in their memory.

They presented a 35,000-signature petition to 10 Downing Street.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said no life sentence prisoner was released unless the level of risk they presented to the public was acceptable.

The families called on the government to make "life mean life".

Concrete action

The march was led by taxi driver John Johnson, from Sunderland, whose son Kevin was murdered on his doorstep by three youths last year.

He demanded the government took concrete action on violent crime.

Mr Johnson said: "It is getting to be an epidemic and it has got to be addressed with actions not words.

We want Gordon Brown to change the law for sentencing on murder we want life to mean life
John Johnson

"To me Gordon Brown and the government are just coming out with words to try and appease people but then three weeks later things are just back to normal and that is not good enough.

"We want him to change the law for sentencing on murder we want life to mean life not life to mean 12 years or 15 years."

Kevin, who was 22, died of a single stab wound to the chest after he confronting a rowdy mob outside his home which was keeping his baby awake.

The gang went on to stab another man in a nearby street as Kevin died.

Dean Curtis, who was 18 at the time, Tony Hawkes, who was 17, and Jordan Towers, 16, were all given life sentences for Kevin's murder with minimum terms of 17 years, 16 years and 13 years in prison respectively.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Every lifer released on licence remains subject to recall to custody for the rest of their lives.

"Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the courts."

Mother's 'life to mean life' call
11 Jun 08 |  Merseyside

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