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Conspiracy to Murder, Soliciting to Murder

Date produced: January 2012
Title: Offences Against the Person
Offences: Conspiracy to Murder, Soliciting to Murder
Mode of Trial: Indictable only
Statutory Limitations & Maximum Penalty:  Life imprisonment
Sentencing Range: Serious specified violent offence. Schedule 15A CJA 2003 applies

Relevant Sentencing Guidelines:

There are three guideline cases:-

  • R v McNee, Russell and Gunn [2008] 1 Cr. App. R.(S.) 24 (conspiracy)
  • R v Barot [2008] 1 Cr. App. R.(S.) 31 (conspiracy)
  • R v Saleem, Javad and Muhid [2008] 2 Cr. App. R.(S) 12 (soliciting)

Relevant Sentencing Case Law:

Attorney-General's Ref 43 of 1996 (Costaine) [1997] 1 Cr. App. R. (S.) 378.
Convicted of two counts of soliciting to murder. Offender, who was subject to an Italian judgment requiring payment of £17,000, approached a criminal and indicated that she wanted the plaintiff shot. He reported the matter to the police, an undercover officer was introduced to the offender, and she offered the officer £8,000 to kill the plaintiff.  Sentenced to two years' imprisonment suspended. Held that previous decisions indicated a minimum starting point following trial of five to six years. Sentence unduly lenient. Bearing in mind double jeopardy, four years' imprisonment substituted.

R. v Khalil and others [2004] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 24.
Conspiracy to murder. One appellant wanted to have his daughter's husband killed. In due course, £4,000 was paid to an undercover police officer and the offenders were arrested. The father was convicted after trial and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment, another appellant who had contacted the supposed hitman and pleaded guilty received 12 years imprisonment, and two other appellants both received five years imprisonment. All sentences upheld.

R v Rai [2006] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 13.
Guilty pleas to three counts of soliciting to murder three persons. The appellant acted as a negotiator between the person who wished the murders to be committed and a prospective hit man. The Court noted a wide range of sentences between 6 to 12 years imprisonment. It observed that since Attorney-General's Ref 43 of 1996 there had been much higher sentences. Sentence reduced to eight years imprisonment.

R v McNee, Russell and Gunn [2008] 1 Cr. App. R. (S.) 24.
Convictions for conspiracy to murder.  Appeals against life sentences with minimum terms between 35 years and 25 years.  G masterminded the operation. M and R were involved from the outset reconnoitring and being lookouts on the day of the killings by unknown gunmen.  Held that there were good grounds for concluding that they presented a continuing risk of danger such as to warrant indeterminate sentences, and that the judge had properly considered the starting points in Sch.21 to the 2003 Ac.  Sentences upheld.

R v Barot [2008] 1 Cr. App. R. (S.) 31.
Conspiracy to murder.  Appellant trained as a terrorist and proposed terrorist attacks in America and Britain. One attack contemplated in Britain was to fill three limousines with gas cylinders and explosives and detonate them in an underground car park with the expectation of causing hundreds of casualties. Guilty plea. A life sentence with a minimum term of 40 years should, save in quite exceptional circumstances, represent the maximum for a terrorist who set out to achieve mass murder but caused no physical harm. Minimum term reduced to 30 years.

R v Saleem, Javad and Muhid [2008] 2 Cr. App. R. (S) 12.
M and J convicted of soliciting murder and stirring up racial hatred. (S convicted of stirring up racial hatred).  During a march by Muslims months after the 2005 London bombings protesting against cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, they offended through chanting, placards and speeches.  Held that sentences should reflect the seriousness of the offending by taking into account how long it lasted, the sophistication, skill and industry devoted to it, and the likelihood that it would lead, or had led, others to commit acts of terrorism. The offences had been during a one-off demonstration. M and J's total sentences reduced to four years imprisonment.

R v Hills [2008] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 29.
Soliciting to murder. Appellant agreed to pay undercover police officers £15,000 to commit the murder of a man who lived in Portugal, but failed to attend a third meeting with them. Guilty pleas. Sentence reduced to 4 and a half years. The Court of Appeal reviewed previous decisions and confirmed that the leading case for solicitation to murder was still Attorney General's Reference No.43 of 1996 (see above).

Recent Decisions for both conspiracy to murder and soliciting to murder reported in CSP at B 2-1.3B and Banks Volume 2 Pages 863 et sequitur

The provisions of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 apply.

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