‘Kitchen-knife killers’ and those who subject their victims to domestic abuse could face tougher sentences under government plans
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  • Ministers discussing raising minimum sentences for ‘kitchen knife’ killers 
  • Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said a public consultation has now been launched

Killers who subjected their victims to coercive and controlling domestic abuse could face tougher sentences under government plans.

Ministers will also consider whether the minimum term should be raised for murderers who used a kitchen knife – or other weapon that was already at the crime scene.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said a public consultation to consider the plans has now been launched.

Under current sentencing powers, the starting point for jail terms for murders where a weapon is taken to the scene is 25 years. But a threshold of up to ten years lower normally applies to killings involving a weapon already at the scene since this could suggest a lower level of pre-meditation to the crime.

But mothers whose daughters were murdered by ex-partners using kitchen knives found at their homes have called for a hike in the starting points of these killers.

Poppy Devey Waterhouse was murdered by ex-partner Joe Atkinson in Leeds in 2018 after he failed to accept their break-up

Poppy Devey Waterhouse was murdered by ex-partner Joe Atkinson in Leeds in 2018 after he failed to accept their break-up

Ellie Gould, 17, was stabbed to death at her home in Calne, Wiltshire, in 2019 by boyfriend Thomas Griffiths. Her Carole Gould co-founded the group Killed Women, to campaign on the issue alongside Julie Devey, the mother of Poppy Waterhouse

Ellie Gould, 17, was stabbed to death at her home in Calne, Wiltshire, in 2019 by boyfriend Thomas Griffiths. Her Carole Gould co-founded the group Killed Women, to campaign on the issue alongside Julie Devey, the mother of Poppy Waterhouse

Mr Chalk said: ‘It is shocking that around one in four murders are committed by a current or former partner, or relative.

‘This Government has already gone further than ever to protect women and girls, with tough new protection orders plus laws to ensure abusers and killers spend longer behind bars. To make sure sentencing policy is meeting the threat, it is right to review this complex landscape so that the scourge of violence against women is tackled as coherently and effectively as possible.’

Every year around 90 people – mostly women – are killed by their current or ex-partner and the majority of the murders take place at home. When a weapon is used, it is often a kitchen knife and it is already at the scene, the Ministry of Justice reported.

Ellie Gould, 17, was stabbed to death at her home in Calne, Wiltshire, in 2019 by boyfriend Thomas Griffiths after she ended their relationship – before he rearranged the scene to make it look like she inflicted the fatal wounds herself. He was jailed for a minimum of 12 years and six months.

Ellie’s mother Carole Gould co-founded the group Killed Women, to campaign on the issue alongside Julie Devey, whose daughter Poppy Devey Waterhouse was murdered by ex-partner Joe Atkinson in Leeds in 2018 after he also failed to accept their break-up.

He was jailed for a minimum of 15 years and 310 days after stabbing her 23 times and inflicting more than 100 injuries overall. Plans to change the law also follow recommendations made by Clare Wade KC in an independent review into domestic homicide sentencing.



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