Murder sentence cut for ‘exceptional progress’

Posted: 27th July 2012

A woman convicted of murder and ordered to serve a minimum jail term of 25 years has won a reduction in that sentence due to her ‘exceptional progress’ in custody.

Jeanne Gillespie, formerly Powell, was one of four young people convicted of murder in 1993 at Manchester Crown Court after 16-year-old Suzanne Capper was held prisoner for almost two weeks, subjected to prolonged torture and finally burnt to death.

Gillespie was ordered to serve a minimum ‘tariff’ of 25 years for her crime. However, that has now been reduced to 23 years to reflect her exceptional progress in custody and the time that she spent on remand before being sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, sitting at the High Court, considered evidence that Gillespie is a changed person after almost 20 years in custody. She had expressed genuine remorse and had helped to prevent a prison escape.

The judge said: ‘I accept that she is highly motivated to make herself a better person. She has a growing understanding of the enormity of her crime and its effect on the family of the victim and is learning to accept responsibility for her actions. She shows genuine remorse for her crime.

‘Her conduct has been excellent, responding to a high degree of trust and going over and above what is required of her. She is helpful and compassionate towards other prisoners.’

Gillespie was given a one-year reduction in her minimum tariff for her exceptional progress and another to reflect the pre-sentence period she spent on remand. The judge's ruling means she can apply for parole in late 2016.

However, she will only then be freed if she can convince the parole board that the danger she posed to society has passed. Once released, she will remain on perpetual life licence, subject to prison recall if she puts a foot wrong.