Domestic abusers who kill their partners and ex-partners are subject to tougher sentences under new government plans as a result of campaigns by bereaved families in England and Wales.
Currently, domestic killers face a decade less in prison than murderers outside of the home despite the same offence of homicide being committed by both.
Dominic Raab is demanding for a change in the law and minimum sentence for domestic homicide due to pressures from campaigners since 2020. ‘Coercive and controlling behaviour is present in half of domestic murders, and predominantly men against women. I think the sentence should reflect … the slow torment that leads up to the murder, and we’ll introduce a statutory aggravating factor as soon as possible that would lift sentences by up to two years or potentially more,’ Raab stated.
He has also communicated with the Sentencing Council for England and Wales to review and revise sentencing guidelines for manslaughter in relation to ‘rough’ sexual activities within domestic settings.
Carole Gould whose 17-year-old daughter, Ellie, was killed by another sixth-former student after she ended their relationship in 2019 stated that ‘[t]he government is finally recognising that these are heinous crimes committed by dangerous perpetrators. It’s small steps, but we’re now headed in the right direction.’
Gould campaigns with a campaign group called Killed Women along with Julie Devery whose 24 year old daughter, Poppy, was stabbed 49 times in 2018. They believe that domestic murders should have a starting sentence of 25 years.
Victims and Sentencing minister Edward Argar paid his respects towards Gould and Devery stating that they had campaigned “bravely and tirelessly” after the murder of their daughters. ‘No one should ever feel unsafe in their own home, and we will continue working with Julie and Carole and others to make further progress in tackling the dreadful crime of domestic abuse,’ he stated.
It has been recognised that many domestic murders happen after many years of abuse according to an Independent review of domestic homicide sentencing. Raab told the BBC that sentences should reflect the slow torment that leads up the murder and that a statutory aggravating factor will be introduced to reflect this that would heighten sentences by up to two years or more.
Following the need for reform around domestic murders, the law will be changed so that a history of coercive, abusive or controlling/violent behaviours against victims will be taken into consideration as an aggravating factor when determining a sentence.