Majority Back Tory MP’s Call for Return of Death Penalty for Child-Killers
20:26 GMT 07.12.2021 (Updated: 21:39 GMT 18.10.2022)
The father and stepmother of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes were handed sentences of 21 years and life respectively last week for his murder in 2020. Attorney-General Suella Braverman is now reviewing those sentences to decide if they were too lenient.
A majority of British voters support a backbench Tory MP's proposal to bring back the death penalty for murderers of children.
A survey by pollsters YouGov found 52 per cent of respondents backed the call made by Conservative Blackpool South MP Scott Benton on Twitter. My contrast, 36 per cent were opposed and 12 per cent undecided.
Benton was responding in response to the sentencing of the father and stepmother of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes for his murder last June after months of mistreatment and torture.
Arthur's father Thomas Hughes and his stepmother Emma Tustin were sentenced on Friday for the crime that has shocked the nation and residents of their West Midlands home town of Solihull. Hughes was jailed for 21 years and Tustin for life, to serve a minimum of 29 years
Attorney-General Suella Braverman's office has announced she will review the sentences "to determine whether they were too low".
Arthur lived with his mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow until she was arrested in February 2019 for stabbing her new boyfriend Gary Cunningham to death. She was convicted of manslaughter later that year and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.
Speaking on BBC Two's Politics Live programme on Tuesday, the MP reiterated his call for the "ultimate punishment".
"My email box over the last few days has been full of people expressing their disgust at this particularly evil and barbaric case," Benton said.
He said he "absolutely agreed" with whole-life sentences, as handed to former Metropolitan Police constable Wayne Couzens
in September for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard
Pressed by host Jo Coburn on what he meant by the "ultimate punishment", the Conservative backbencher confirmed he meant capital punishment.
"If it was down to me, I'd bring back the death penalty for a small number of cases," Benton said. "I'm not afraid to say that , and that's a view favoured by the majority of the British people".
Emma Lewell-Buck, the Labour MP for South Shields, denied that a majority backed a return to capital punishment seven decades after it was abolished.
"I don't think it would act as a deterrent," Lewell-Buck said, "but I agree that I don't think there's anyone in this country who would go against these two having a whole-life sentence."
"Poor Arthur has lost his life because of these monsters," she added. "They shouldn't be allowed out of prison ever for what they've done to him.".
GB News presenter Isabel Oakeshott said she was "vehemently opposed to the death penalty," but also backed whole-life sentences.
"I don't think it makes us any better as a society," Oakeshott said. "I think it's a sinister and awful thing, and the machinery of carrying out executions and the possibility of miscarriages of justice massively outweigh any retribution that you might get from that."
Lewell-Buck, a former social worker, said cuts to local authority raised the workload of cases for her and each of her colleagues "from the recommended 15, to 45."
5 December 2021, 08:16 GMT
Capital punishment for murder was effectively abolished in Great Britain in 1965, and in Northern Ireland in 1973. It remained an option for some cases of treason and military court martial offences until as late as 1998.
The last people hanged in the UK were of Gwynne Owen Evans and Peter Allen, both on August 13 1964 and both for the murder of laundry van driver John Alan West as they robbed him.
In 1955, Ruth Ellis became the last British woman to be hanged, for shooting dead her lover David Blakely in a London street.
The last person hanged in Britain for treason was US-born Nazi radio propagandist William Joyce, better known as his broadcast persona Lord Haw-Haw, in 1946.
Both Joyce and Ellis were executed by Britain's most prolific hangman Albert Pierrepoint, who hanged as many 600 convicts but later turned against the death penalty in his 1974 autobiography.
"There have been murders since the beginning of time, and we shall go on looking for deterrents until the end of time," Pierrepoint wrote. "If death were a deterrent, I might be expected to know."