Hartlepool Killer Loses Challenge Over Whole Life Sentence

3 February 2015, 09:47 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Triple killer Arthur Hutchinson, from Hartlepool, has lost his challenge at the European Court of Human Rights against his whole-life prison sentence.

The judgment is the latest development in the debate over "life means life'' terms.

Hutchinson was jailed in 1984 for stabbing wealthy couple Basil and Avril Laitner to death after breaking into their Sheffield home on the night of their daughter's wedding, then killing one of their sons.

He was the first Briton to challenge the sentence after a controversial ruling by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in July 2013 that whole-life tariffs breach human rights.

The Strasbourg-based court held that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights - which relates to inhuman and degrading treatment - on the basis that whole-life orders were not ``reducible''.

The court did not say whole-life sentences were incompatible with the convention, but said there had to be the possibility of a review at some stage and that current laws allowing for release in exceptional circumstances were unclear.

But judges ruled on Tuesday that in Hutchinson's case there was no violation of Article 3 as the Secretary of State has the power to review whole-life sentences.