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Newbury MP Laura Farris takes on 'derisory' sentences given to men convicted of killing partners

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NEWBURY MP Laura Farris has challenged the “derisory” domestic abuse sentences given to men convicted of killing their partners.

Last week, Mrs Farris and Harriet Harman, the Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham, met with the Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill to discuss the deaths of Sophie Moss, Claire Wright and Natalie Connolly – all killed by their partners.

In each of the three cases, the perpetrator was sentenced to between three and six years for gross negligence manslaughter, despite killing their girlfriends in violent circumstances, including strangulation.

Laura Farris (46649744)
Laura Farris (46649744)

Earlier this year, Mrs Farris, with cross-party support, tabled an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill which passed and outlawed the “rough sex defence” and prevents perpetrators using the excuse that their victim was “asking for it”.

Commenting on the meeting, Mrs Farris said: “When Sam Pybus killed Sophie Moss he strangled her so hard ‘his hands hurt’.

“His four-year sentence however is equivalent to that which would be handed down for a serious driving error.

“I am concerned that this is the latest in a line of cases where men kill their partners in acts of extreme sexual violence and receive derisory sentences.

“There is no precedent of which I am aware, where any case of femicide which has occurred during an intimate encounter, has been prosecuted as murder despite the clear will of Parliament through the passage of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

“I am very grateful to Max for making time to see Harriet and me and for the assurances he gave us around the propriety of the charging and sentencing procedures.

“We remain concerned that the law is too loose in this area and I am due to speak to the Secretary of State for Justice to discuss this further.”

In September, Mrs Farris supported Mrs Harman in referring the Sam Pybus sentence of four years to the Attorney General Suella Braverman under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme.

The Attorney General has agreed, and the matter will be heard by the Court of Appeal on November 12, 2021.

In the coming weeks, Mrs Farris will be meeting with the Home Secretary and other ministers, lawyers and campaigners to discuss these sentences and whether tougher legislation is needed.

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