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Victim Impact Statement

On 16 October 2001 Lord Woolf held the position of Lord Chief Justice and so was essentially the top criminal judge in the country (in three weeks this article will deal with and explain different judicial positions and titles). On that date he issued the Practice Direction (Crime: Victim Personal Statements) which gave guidance on how and in what circumstances statements from victims should be obtained and used for sentencing criminals. This was under a scheme which had started at the beginning of that month. You can find the practice direction at [2001] 1 W.L.R. 2038. This is page 2038, year 2001, volume 1 of the Weekly Law Reports. (In two weeks this article will deal with different law reports and how you understand legal references).


Victim's statement decision

Victims of crime have to give statements to the police about the crime for them to be able to pursue it. When they give them the police officer will tell the victim about the scheme and that they can make a victim personal statement. The victims decide whether they are going to make a statement or not. They have until the case is finished to make one. (Plainly if it is to be considered by the judge when sentencing a criminal, he has to have it by the time the sentencing hearing takes place).


The effect on the victims

Where a victim personal statement is given the judge should consider it and take it into account before passing sentence. It has to be in the form of a statement and served on the defence before sentence. What is relevant is the effect on the victim or victims or close relatives, not what sentence the victims think ought to be passed. It is up to the judge to decide whether it is appropriate or desirable to refer to the victim statement in passing sentence.


Tom ap Rhys Price

To appreciate the impact, the best thing to do is to consider a specific case. Most people will remember the recent brutal murder of Tom ap Rhys Pryce, a Cambridge graduate and lawyer with the top city firm of Linklaters. He was stabbed to death during a mugging by Donnel Carty, 19, and Delano Brown, 18. This occurred less than 20 minutes after they had mugged another man, Kurshid Ali, at Kensal Green Tube station. Mr Pryce was due shortly to be married. His fiancee, another solicitor Adele Eastman, wrote a moving and heartrending victim statement. A tribute to the dead man as well as graphically illustrating the numbing pain and impact of the grief she bares. As well as an impact statement, it ranks as a great love letter. She wanted to read it out personally, but since this is not the standard practice the judge refused this. It was read out by the prosecution in court.


Read her statement

You can find the text of her statement here. If anything will bring to life the impact of a violent crime leading to loss of a loved one, that will.

The defendants, having been convicted of murder, were both given life sentences with a minimum recommendation of 21 years and 17 years respectively. That means one is likely to be released at age 40, the other at 35.

Michael J. Booth QC