NSPCC statement on Baby Peter sentencing
Press Releases - 22 May 2009
The minimum sentences imposed on two of the three people convicted for the death of Baby Peter are disappointing, the NSPCC said today.
While the indeterminate sentences passed on these two and the life sentence passed on the third for the rape of a two year old girl are welcome, the minimum sentences means they could be free in a few short years.
The sentences mean that Baby Peter’s 27 year old mother and her lodger, 37 year old Jason Owen would still be young enough to start new lives and new families when released.
NSPCC chief executive Andrew Flanagan said: “We are disappointed that the minimum tariff was so low. It raises the question of how bad the abuse has to be before offenders get a longer minimum time in prison.
“Baby Peter suffered sustained abuse leaving him with horrendous injuries. Two of his abusers could walk free at a time when Peter should be a schoolboy with a new world in front of him. Despicable cruelty has denied him that opportunity.
“These three caused or allowed the torture and death of a defenceless baby. They may be behind bars now but when released from prison they must be put under the most stringent monitoring so they can never harm another child.
“The authorities must use every measure at their disposal to manage these individuals when they are freed.
Although most offenders are managed safely in the community, every week at least one kills, rapes or commits another serious offence.1 Every ten days in England and Wales a child is killed at the hands of their parent or carer. Many more children are left disabled or suffer life-threatening injuries.
The NSPCC’s Helpline - 0808 800 5000 - is there 24 hours a day if anyone has concerns about a child. People worried about a child can also email email@example.com
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Media office on 020 7825 2516. Out of hours mobile 07976 206 625.
Notes to editors:
Following many years of lobbying by the NSPCC, the new offence of causing or allowing the death of a child came into effect in England and Wales in March 2005. It plugged the loophole of adults escaping justice by remaining silent or blaming each other for the death of a child in their care.
There have been more than a dozen convictions for causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult since it became law with sentences ranging from just 18 months to 10 years. One person has been given an indeterminate sentence. Indeterminate sentences allow someone to be kept in prison beyond their minimum term until a Parole Board decides the level of risk they pose to the public is ‘acceptable.’ No-one has yet received the maximum sentence of 14 years.
The NSPCC is calling for the ‘causing or allowing’ law to be extended to cover cases where a carer has inflicted serious injuries on a child but where the child does not die - or where it cannot be proved that the child died from the injuries inflicted.
1 National MAPPA (multi agency public protection arrangements) figures show 79 monitored offenders committed serious further offences in 2008. A serious further offence includes homicide, attempted homicide, rape or attempted rape and any other serious violent or sexual offence with a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment or more.