Anger at law that means child killers can still avoid full life terms

Mother of three babies who were murdered by ‘Monster of Worcester’ leads backlash at loophole meaning child killers like Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ evil stepmother can STILL avoid full life sentences

  • Elsie Urry said law was still a ‘farce’ when it came to punishing child murderers
  • Her babies were murdered at their home in 1973 by babysitter David McGreavy
  • ‘Tough’ 2022 law still requires prosecutors to prove significant premeditation

A mother whose three babies were murdered by the ‘Monster of Worcester’ today led a backlash at a loophole in a new law introducing full life tariffs for child killers which she fears would still see the fiend avoid one if he was sentenced today. 

Elsie Urry’s children, Paul Ralph, four, Dawn, two, and nine-month-old Samantha, were murdered by babysitter David McGreavy at their Worcester home in 1973, before he left their bodies impaled on railings. He spent 45 years in jail before being released in 2019.

The horrific case was among those mentioned today during a parliamentary debate about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2022 called by Dr Kieran Mullan, the Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwich.

The legislation introduced a whole life tariff for child murder with no need to prove abduction or a sexual or sadistic motivation, but critics are angry it still requires evidence of ‘significant premeditation’.

Ms Urry said she ‘expects’ McGreavy would still have escaped a whole life tariff if he was sentenced today due to his crime being treated as a spontaneous act committed in a drunken rage.

She told MailOnline: ‘He killed my three little children. He should never be allowed to get out. All this time, I’ve watched my friends have children of their own and then grandchildren. It’s me who’s had a life sentence, not him. The law is still a farce when it comes to things like this.’

Elsie Urry, whose three children were murdered by babysitter David McGreavy in 1973, spoke out today as MPs debated changing a new law giving ‘tougher’ sentences to child killers 

Mrs Urry with her children, Paul Ralph, four, Dawn, two, and nine-month-old Samantha (left) and McGreavy (right)

Dr Mullan said the bill ‘should have been what would save people like Elsie the same heartache she has suffered watching her children’s murderer walk free’, but it ‘falls far short’ of achieving this. 

He also raised the case of Emma Tustin, the ‘evil’ stepmother who murdered six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, after poisoning him with salt and forcing him – emaciated – to sleep on a hard floor and stand all day in a corridor.  

Tustin was convicted of murdering Arthur in December last year, and jailed for a minimum of 29 years, while her boyfriend, Thomas Hughes, was sentenced to 24 years for manslaughter.

‘Every person I have spoken to and everyone who has contacted me about that case wanted to see her locked up for the rest of her life,’ Dr Mullan told Westminster Hall. ‘But in his sentencing remarks the judge was clear, there was no premeditation. 

‘So we know that if the terrible crime were to be repeated tomorrow, the new measure we have passed would not take effect. This is despite it being exactly the type of cruel callous murder the public would expect to be impacted by the new legislation.’ 

Today’s debate also raised the case of Emma Tustin, who murdered six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. Also pictured is Thomas Hughes, who was convicted of manslaughter 

Six-year-old Arthur was beaten, tortured and then murdered by Tustin at her home in Solihull 

Dr Mullan said he is ‘calling for changes to our justice system so that it actually delivers justice’.

He said it is ‘likely to be the view’ of the ‘overwhelming majority of the public that if someone brutally murders a child they should spend the rest of their lives in prison’, adding: ‘I, and I think many others, would get more solace from justice being done.

‘What is known as a whole life order rather than just a life sentence is extremely rare in our justice system.

Kieran Mullan, Tory MP for Crewe and Nantwich, said he is ‘calling for changes to our justice system so that it actually delivers justice’

‘During the time that I’ve been campaigning on tougher sentencing, I’ve picked up on what I will describe as an intellectual snobbery towards people that think longer sentences serve justice, a sense that it’s small-minded thinking, that to think that you must somehow be unable to realise the moral or intellectual heights that can reached through forgiveness, that surely it’s obviously the wrong approach because it doesn’t allow for rehabilitation as if – by default – no matter the crime, victims and their families should care more about that than they do about justice. I think that is misguided thinking.’

Responding, justice minister Rachel Maclean said ‘confidence that sentencing fits the crime is vital for public confidence’.

She said: ‘Cases of child murder are rightly punished very severely by the courts and those who are convicted face very long sentences in prison, possibly with no prospect for release and that’s absolutely the right thing to do.

‘This Government has increased the powers available to the courts in raising the maximum penalties for acts of cruelty and extending the list of circumstances where a whole life order is the starting point to ensure that courts are able to impose severe penalties.’

She added: ‘I very much look forward to continuing the process of working with [Dr Mullan] so that we can do whatever we can to increase public confidence in the sentencing and criminal justice system as a whole.’

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