Judge welcomes sentencing outcry: Five years 'too little' for manslaughter

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THE JUDGE who caused an outcry by jailing for five years the killer of a schoolboy supermarket worker said yesterday that he hoped public protests would lead to a review of sentencing guidelines.

Mr Justice Drake said: 'I made it clear earlier this week I personally thought the sentences are too low.

'If as a result of the publicity the Court of Appeal has another look at all these matters, and all the politicians insist on some way of higher sentences, I shall be delighted. I am constrained to take the law as I find it.'

The public, he said, became 'outraged and rightly so' at sentences.

The outcry followed the sentencing of Nicholas Bray, 24, for the manslaughter of Jonathan Roberts, 17.

Jonathan died last September after sprinting to catch Bray, who had left a supermarket in Plymstock, Devon, without paying for a trolleyload of goods.

When the boy caught up with him, Bray punched and kicked him into unconsciousness, and he died later from inhaling his own vomit.

The court was told by a Home Office pathologist that the injuries were not enough to have killed Jonathan directly, and the jury was instructed formally to clear Bray of murder.

Mr Justice Drake referred back to the case at Plymouth Crown Court yesterday after sentencing a defendant to five years for the manslaughter of a man in a nightclub.

The judge's comments were countered by Bray's solicitor, Clive Lambert, who insisted that his client had not got off lightly.

He said: 'Five years' imprisonment may be said to be too lenient for an offender who kicked and punched someone to death, intending to inflict really serious harm. But that is not the case of Andrew Bray.'

Bray, a former soldier, of Lipson, Plymouth, punched the boy only twice and intended no serious harm, Mr Lambert said.