European Court tells gay serial killer life sentence breaches his human rights

Posted by Rhuaridh Marr
July 9, 2013 10:12 AM |

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the whole life sentence given to Peter Moore, who killed four gay men in the U.K. for sexual gratification, is a breach of his human rights.

Moore was convicted in 1996 on four counts of murder, after stabbing four gay men across four months in 1995. He told the jury at his trial that the murders were carried out by "Jason," a gay lover nicknamed after the infamous character in the Friday the 13th horror films. He was jailed on a life sentence, without possibility of parole or review.

It's this sentencing that the ECHR has taken issue with, granting successful appeals to three convicted U.K. criminals including Douglas Vinter, who stabbed his wife in 2008, and Jeremy Bamber, who killed his parents, sister and her two children in 1985. The court ruled that a life sentence without possibility of release amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, and that it was not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The landmark ruling means that U.K. courts can no longer sentence convicted criminals to a life in jail without potential for release, and that all 49 of the U.K.'s whole-life sentence inmates can have their cases reviewed in the future -- something a life tarriff previously disallowed, with only the justice secretary able to allow for release.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he "profoundly disagrees with the Court's ruling", and the U.K. government is now considering its response.

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