Family demands new stricter guidelines for sentencing of ‘one punch’ killers

Andrew Feather
Andrew Feather

The mother of a Hipperholme man killed with a single punch has demanded stricter sentencing guidelines after her appeal was rejected.

The family of Andrew Feather appealed the length of sentence given to Dale McLean for manslaughter as they believed he should have been given a longer jail term.

Mum Jennifer Feather said: “After the sentence we had 28 days to appeal the length of the sentence. There were things said in the court that we never knew about. We decided as a family we would appeal.”

The Attorney General Office (AGO) reviewed the case to decide if the case should go to the Court of Appeal.

During the court case at Bradford Crown Court, the judge indicated the full sentence given could be eight years but was reduced down to five years and four months on the fact McLean had given himself up and pleaded guilty.

However, the family contested this and said he only gave himself up after a TV appeal and because of his violent history he knew he would have a better chance of leniency. They also said that McLean had waited until the 11th hour to plead guilty and showed no remorse.

However, the Attorney General ruled that the sentence given to McLean was not unduly lenient.

A spokesperson for the AGO said: “The Solicitor General, Oliver Heald QC MP, offers his sincerest condolences to the family of Andrew Feather. He considered the sentence of Dale McLean personally, taking into account all the relevant factors in the case, including the comments by the sentencing judge, and after careful deliberation he decided that the Court of Appeal would not find the sentence handed to Dale McLean unduly lenient, and therefore would decline to increase it.”

Mrs Feather said on the Attorney General’s ruling: “We were very disappointed because we think we had ground for a re-sentence.

“Had McLean served a full and appropriate sentence for his first reported violent assault, which would have included a rehabilitation period, he would not have been free to commit another offence. He and his friend, and alcohol, were a recipe for disaster in any environment.

“It seems to us that if it hadn’t been our son who died that night as a result of their ‘victim stalking’, it would have been someone else that night - or it would have happened sooner or later.

“Society deserves better protection and a better judiciary system - one we can have faith in.”

As a result of a very recent and similar case, the Secretary of State for Justice has asked the Sentencing Council to consider producing guidelines for manslaughter cases in these circumstances as he acknowledged there is public concern, which is shared by the Government.

In that case the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, asked the Court of Appeal to consider the sentence handed to Lewis Gill for the manslaughter of Andrew Young.

The Court of Appeal heard the submissions but ruled that the sentence of four years was not unduly duly lenient and therefore declined to increase it.

Mrs Feather said she had sympathy for the family of Andrew Young and, even though the circumstances were slightly different as Andrew had been killed due to the force of the punch, the sentences being handed out for “one punch” manslaughters were not enough.

“No doubt much stricter guidelines and much more freedom is needed to impose more serious penalties in view of previous violent history,” she said.

“It has been absolutely overwhelming the support from the most terrible few months. We’ve had wonderful support from friends, family, colleagues and his rugby team mates. It showed how he touched so many lives.”