The Fourth Section of the European Court of Human Rights has found by a majority of 6 to 1 that there was no violation of Article 3 - (Prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) - of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of Hutchinson v United Kingdom - Court's judgment.
In October 1983, the applicant broke into a family home, stabbed to death a man, his wife and their adult son and repeatedly raped their 18 year‑old daughter, having first dragged her past her father’s body. He was arrested several weeks later and charged with the offences. At trial he pleaded not guilty, denying the killings and claiming that the sex had been consensual. On 14 September 1984, at Sheffield Crown Court, he was convicted of aggravated burglary, rape and three counts of murder.
The trial judge sentenced the applicant to a term of life imprisonment and recommended a minimum tariff of 18 years to the Secretary of State for the Home Office. When asked to give his opinion again on 12 January 1988, the judge wrote that “for the requirements of retribution and general deterrence this is genuinely a life case”.
On 15 January 1988 the Lord Chief Justice recommended that the period should be set at a whole life term stating that “I do not think that this man should ever be released, quite apart from the risk which would be involved”.
On 16 December 1994, the Secretary of State informed the applicant that he had decided to impose a whole life term.
Following the entry into force of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the applicant applied to the High Court for a review of his minimum term of imprisonment. On 16 May 2008, Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the applicant’s case ( EWHC 860 (QB)), finding that there was no reason for deviating from the Secretary of State’s decision. The seriousness of the offences alone was such that the starting point was a whole life order. In addition, there were a number of very serious aggravating factors. Tugendhat J made express reference to an impact statement from the surviving victim, which described “sadistic as well as sexual conduct”. There were no mitigating factors. On 6 October 2008, the Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant’s appeal.
In finding that there was no breach of Article 3, the court took fully into account the decision of a five judge constitution of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) in R v McLoughlin and Newell  EWCA Crim 188 - please see previous post and the Judgment.
This Strasbourg judgment will no doubt be welcomed by the British government and gives lie to the myth that Strasbourg generally finds against the United Kingdom.
On the Defence Brief blog - That Bloody Europe - solicitor Nicholas Diable comments:
With that, I respectfully agree.