Spalding Double Murder Convictions: Too Lenient?
The 20 year minimum terms handed to a teenage couple - believed to be Britain's youngest double-murderers - for the brutal "executions" of a mother and her daughter in Spalding, have been referred to the Attorney General for being "unduly lenient".
The boy and girl - both 14 at the time of the murders - had sex, shared a bath and watched four Twilight vampire films as they "revelled" after the stabbing of dinner lady Elizabeth Edwards, 49, and 13 year-old Katie Edwards.
Now both 15, the couple were handed life sentences by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, who said the pair had a "toxic" relationship and acted in a "grotesque" way.
Sentencing them at Nottingham Crown Court earlier this month, the judge said the case had "few parallels in modern criminal history".
He told the teenagers:
"There was remarkable premeditation and planning - it was, on any view, substantial, meticulous and repeated.
The killings were brutal in the form of executions and both victims, particularly Elizabeth Edwards, must have suffered terribly in the last minutes of their lives.
Had you been adults you may have been facing the whole of your lives in prison for this double murder."
The court was told the boy, who admitted murder, used a kitchen knife to stab both victims in the neck after attacking them as they slept at their Dawson Avenue home in Spalding, in April.
His girlfriend, who helped to plan the "cold, calculated and callous" killings, denied murder, claiming to be suffering an abnormality of mental function which impaired her ability to form rational judgments, but was found guilty after a five-day trial.
The case was referred to the Attorney General under the unduly lenient sentence scheme and law officers have 28 days to decide if any action should be taken.
A statement from the Attorney General's office said:
"We are unable to provide the details of who referred the case. The threshold to refer cases to the Court of Appeal is very high.
A sentence can only be regarded as unduly lenient if there has been a gross error and it is significantly below the level that any judge could have reasonably imposed after considering the facts of the case."