Killer's Sentenced Increased

11 March 2010, 13:04

A Suffolk man jailed for a brutal murder in Bury St Edmunds has today had his sentence increased at The Court of Appeal.

40-year old John McFarlane broke into the home of Mary Griffiths in May last year and "executed" her with a bolt gun in front of her three daughters.

A court heard McFarlane, who worked as a slaughterman had become angry when Mary rejected his advances.

McFarlane was taking revenge after she posted a message on Facebook saying he was "delusional'' if he thought they would ever have a relationship.

Hours before the murder in May this year, Ms Griffiths had contacted police to voice her fears that the 40-year-old, a former friend, was stalking her.  A Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation has subsequently been launched into Suffolk Police's handling of the case and will conclude in due course.

A neighbour described what he saw as "clinical, deliberate, and like an execution'' and how he also knocked one of Mary's daughter's to the ground with the weapon.

The killer later texted a friend to say he had done it to teach her a lesson - before slashing his arms in an apparent suicide attempt.

McFarlane pleaded guilty to murder at Ipswich Crown Court last year and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 20 years.

Today, the Court of Appeal has decided the original sentence was too lenient and upped the minimum term to 30 years.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Rick Munns says, "I hope that the result of today's hearing provides further solace for the family and friends of Mary, who continue to display courage and dignity following her tragic death last May. Whilst John McFarlane was originally sentenced to life imprisonment in November, the minimum term he must serve has been extended which reflects the horrific nature of this sad case."

A statement released by the family read:

"Today my family and I came to court to see the sentence previously handed down to John MacFarlane brought to appeal. We were not satisfied with the severity of the sentence considering the sheer brutality John MacFarlane inflicted on our beautiful sister, Mary Frances. While we realise that no sentence can ever compensate for Mary's loss of life, we feel strongly that justice was not fully served last November.

"It is with heavy hearts that we stand here today having achieved what we set out to, by making this appeal. Our objective was for John MacFarlane's sentence to be reflective of the heinous crime he forced on our sister Mary Frances and the nightmare her three children have had to endure as a result of his evil actions.

"On May 6th 2009, John MacFarlane viciously murdered our sister, in the middle of the night, while she slept with her three children, in what should've been, the safety of her own home. He carefully planned the events of that night and callously smashed his way into her home and murdered her in front of her three young daughters. John MacFarlane gave our sister a violent death full of terror and fear.

"John MacFarlane saw to it that Mary's life was cut short at just 38 years of age. Mary adored her three precious girls, and they adore her also. She lived for her children. She was a devoted mother who was looking forward to watching her girls grow up and their future together. Each day she would embrace life with her infectious warmth and energy. Mary made a real difference to people's lives, she was inspirational to everyone who was blessed to know her. She is sadly missed every day by her family and friends. This world is a much darker place without Mary in it."