MP takes justice fight to the top

Andrew Feather who was killed in a single punch attack while at a Halifax nightclub
Andrew Feather who was killed in a single punch attack while at a Halifax nightclub

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker is set to lobby the Attorney General to review the “lenient” sentence given to the killer of Halifax Rugby Union player Andrew Feather.

Dale McLean, of Greenfield Avenue, Huddersfield, admitted the unlawful killing of Mr Feather in a one-punch attack and was jailed for five years and four months in April.

But Conservative MP Mr Whittaker said, following a meeting with Mr Feather’s parents, he is looking at getting that sentence quashed and a longer sentence put in place.

Speaking to the Halifax Courier Mr Whittaker, who raised the issue of punishments for one-punch killings with the Secretary of State for Justice in Parliament, said: “There has been a national movement to see whether the sentencing can be tightened in this area, so on behalf of Andrew’s family I am asking the question.”

Last week Mr Whittakerasked the Secretary of State for Justice “what steps he is taking to review sentences given for (a) murder and (b) manslaughter where the offence was a one-punch killing”.

In response to Mr Whittaker’s question, Jeremy Wright (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice; Kenilworth and Southam, Conservative) said: “A life sentence is mandatory for murder and there is statutory guidance to the courts in determining the appropriate minimum term when sentencing.

“Manslaughter has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and, within that maximum penalty, it is necessary that judges are able to sentence according to all the factors in each case. There is no sentencing guideline on unlawful act manslaughter but there is case law to assist the courts.

“Following the comments of the Attorney-General and the Court of Appeal in the case of Lewis Gill, the Government considers that clarification of sentencing in manslaughter cases would assist the courts in these difficult cases and be helpful to the public.

“The Secretary of State for Justice therefore wrote to Lord Justice Treacy, the Chair of the Sentencing Council, on 8 May 2014 to make a formal request that the Council gives consideration to producing guidance on the sentencing of these cases.”