North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, spoke during the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bills yesterday evening. This Bill is of particular importance to the MP following the tragic murder of Ellie Gould at her home in Calne in May 2019. Mr Gray has been fighting alongside Mr and Mrs Gould for a change in the sentencing of minors – featured in clauses 101 to 105 – as well as the issue of premeditation.
The North Wiltshire MP stated:
“Under clause 101, a 17-year-old who turns 18 during the course of the trial, as happened in this case, will now face a similar penalty to the one they would face if they had been 18 at the time of the crime. Until now, a 17-year-old was treated much the same as a 10-year-old, and of course, they are very different people. A sliding scale will now be introduced, so that a 17-year-old will be pretty much treated as an adult.”
Later in his speech, Mr Gray detailed his concerns for the issue of premeditation in the Bill:
“However, the Bill does not address the third anomaly, which is that had Griffiths brought the knife to the scene rather than pick it up in the kitchen, his sentence would have more than doubled—he would have got up to 27 years, rather than 12 and a half. Surely a frenzied attack of this kind, whether it is done with the knife that someone brings with them or a knife that they find in the kitchen, deserves the fullest possible sentence in the law.
There is an argument that women who are victims of domestic abuse may carry out a murder in self-defence using a knife at home. Surely the criminal law could find a way of saying that murder in self-defence under those conditions is quite different from a brutal murder such as that of Ellie Gould.”
After raising these points in the House of Commons Chamber last night, Mr Gray ended with the poignant observation that:
“Nothing can bring Ellie Gould back. Nothing can assuage the grief of her parents. Incidentally, nothing can assuage the grief of Thomas Griffiths’ parents, who are also my constituents; they have lost their son in a very real way too. But strengthening the sentencing regime, as the Bill does, will at least mean some lasting legacy. It is, indeed, Ellie’s law.”