British soldiers escape life term

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The Independent Online
THREE FORMER British soldiers jailed for killing a Danish tour guide in Cyprus had their appeal against life sentences upheld yesterday.

The men, who were all members of the First Battalion Royal Green Jackets at the time of the offence, will now serve a maximum 25 years.

Justin Fowler, 30, from Falmouth, Cornwall, Alan Ford, 30, from Birmingham and Geoff Pernell, 27, from Oldbury, West Midlands, were jailed for life without remission in March 1996 for the abduction and manslaughter of Louise Jensen four years ago.

But although they had the life sentence reduced, the Cyprus Supreme Court still imposed a stiffer sentence for manslaughter than the average 15 years. "Their merciless behaviour ranked the crime which they committed with the highest degree of seriousness of manslaughter and the sentence must reflect this," said the judge, George Pikkis.

Legal sources said the three were most likely to serve 15 years, taking into account good behaviour and routine presidential pardons.

The sentence counts from the time the soldiers were arrested in September 1994.

Judge Pikkis said the three could not be held indefinitely as their young age and clean criminal record at the time of the offence were mitigating factors.

Their drunken state was also taken into account by the Supreme Court, which said it was a mistake for the criminal court not to consider the influence of alcohol when passing a life sentence.

Louise's parents were present for the court ruling and expressed their disappointment afterwards.

"I thought they should be kept in prison for life. I am very disappointed," said Louise's mother, Annette.

Miss Jensen, 23, was sexually assaulted and brutally beaten to death with a spade after being abducted near a petrol station in Ayia Napa on 13 September 1994. Her naked body was found two days later in a shallow grave.