Family’s sentencing battle taken to Parliament by MP

Andrew Feather
Andrew Feather

The mother of Andrew Feather, who was killed by a single punch, has welcomed the news that the fight for stricter guidelines has been discussed in Parliament.

Jennifer Feather met with Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker, who lobbied the Attorney General to review the “lenient” sentence given to Dale McLean, who was jailed for five years and four months for the manslaughter of the Halifax Rugby Union player from Hipperholme.

Mrs Feather said: “It was a very worthwhile meeting and he was very attentive and said he would do what he could in Parliament.

“We have had a lot of encouraging remarks and gestures of support.

“We are suggesting people can help by contacting their MP and ask them to support Craig Whittaker.

“It might be too late in our case but we hope in the future more stricter sentencing guidelines on these cases can be established.”

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.”

Mr Whittaker asked 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; and Conservative MP for Kenilworth and Southam) 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 Chairman of the Sentencing Council, on May 8, 2014, to make a formal request that the council gives consideration to producing guidance on the sentencing of these cases.”