Head stamp man’s longer sentence is not enough

KIERAN HOWARD: Thanks very much for the hand, foot and mouth disease Louie

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The English judiciary is often criticised, whether it is for handing down sentences which many perceive to be too lenient or, in the view of some convicted killers where life means life, of being too harsh.

On the face of it, what happened to 19-year-old Samuel Armstrong yesterday appeared to be just about right.

He had his prison sentence increased from five years four months to nine years. His crime? Causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Quite right too, many of you might say.

Now read the comments of Michelle Yates on page 8 today.

She is the twin sister of 51-year-old Andrew Toseland.

His head was stamped on up to 15 times by Armstrong in a sickening attack in Gosport in August last year.

The reason? Mr Toseland had asked Armstrong and other youths to keep the noise down outside his elderly mother’s flat. It was gone midnight. Of her brother, who now needs around-the-clock care in a care home, Mrs Yates says today: ‘He’s existing – he’s not living.’

She says that, when she visits her brother, he asks dozens of times who she is. His condition is never likely to improve significantly.

Mrs Yates says she thinks the new sentence goes some way to reflecting the crime. ‘Some way’, but perhaps not far enough.

Armstrong will emerge from prison before he is 30, whereas Mr Toseland has been condemned to a life which few would call a life.

His sister and her husband face years of visiting him in that care home and repeatedly trying to convince him that they are family.

The maximum sentence for GBH with intent is 16 years, but Armstrong’s age, low IQ and admission of guilt at the earliest opportunity were taken into account.

Credit must be given to Gosport Tory MP Caroline Dinenage who appealed against Armstrong’s lenient sentence to prompt yesterday’s hearing.

She says she is satisfied with the outcome, but there are many who think otherwise and that the new sentence should have been the maximum. We agree.