On Wednesday, April 3, 2013, two men were found guilty of plotting to kill and rob British singer-songwriter Joss Stone. A jury unanimously convicted Junior Bradshaw and Kevin Liverpool of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to rob the singer.
The two men were arrested in June 2011, a few miles from Stone’s home in Devon, southwest England. Residents near Stone’s home had alerted police after the men stopped to ask for directions to Stone’s home. They even asked a postman for directions and showed the postman a photograph of the popular singer. Soon after, police stopped them and then arrested them after finding several weapons in their car including a samurai sword, hammers and a metal spike. This information was admitted into evidence along with notes found in Bradshaw and Liverpool’s home about their plan to decapitate Stone and dump her body in the river. Other admitted evidence included text messages by Liverpool about his plan to rob someone who made a lot of money and proof that he bought a semi-automatic handgun in January 2011.
The Judge said to Liverpool during his sentencing that “[i]t may have been, to use the colloquial. ‘a crazy scheme from a crazy person and must be likely to fail’ but when you decided to travel from Manchester to Devon you intended to carry it out.”
Liverpool was sentenced to life in prison but will be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of ten years and eight months. Bradshaw’s sentencing will be at a later date.
Also, when the men were arrested in 2011 outside of Stone’s home, she actually was home and her door was unlocked. Thankfully Stone’s neighbors were suspicious of these men and called the police before they could have actually carried out their plans.
I think the Court got this right by charging Liverpool with life in prison and I am sure Bradshaw will receive a similar sentence. Even though they are burnt out idiots and actually thought someone would give them directions to her home while driving around in a sketchy, beat up car, I believe the Court could not look past all of the weapons the police found in their car, the fact that they actually drove to her hometown or the creepy note that they wanted to decapitate her. I am glad these psychos are off the street, at least for now.
Do you think the sentencing was just or too harsh?
SOURCE: CNN, Daily Mail, Yorkshire Post
PHOTO SOURCE: GigWise
I have to say that this case is troubling, because had there been no action taken on the part of the neighbors Joss Stone might be dead today. With that said, because she is not dead I think that life imprisonment is too great a sentence. I am aware that defendants in this country on trial for conspiracy to commit murder face 25 to life, but I am convinced that the penalty is too much.
Conspiracy often involves a plot to kill a particular person for a particular reason. I believe that a mandatory sentence of 15-25 years in prison is sufficient to achieve retribution for society and the individual that was targeted. After 15-25 years, the person that was targeted is unlikely to be the object of the criminals desire; and, in any event, the targeted individual has the opportunity the opportunity to move away if they feel that the threat persists after 15-25 years.
Simply, I do not think that locking someone away for their entire life is appropriate when it was not and could not be proven that that person would have, in fact, committed the murder. If this was a case for attempted murder in the first degree, then I would whole-heartedly support life in prison, but not for conspiracy.
Life imprisonment seems harsh in this instance, especially if the sentence is not one similar to a guilty but mentally ill sentence, where the person would perhaps be in an institution of sorts for potentially life. In that instance I feel this sentence would be just, as this person clearly needs help. However, if this person received a life sentence for attempted murder, I feel that is extremely harsh and not even justified by retributive theory, as the punishment does not – in my mind – fit the crime. The fact that the defendant will be eligible for parole in almost 11 years demonstrates the extremeness of this sentence – if he truly deserved life imprisonment perhaps a life without parole sentence should have been imposed. However, while this man clearly deserves punishment (and rehabilitation), a life sentence is not appropriate here in my view. In comparison, in the federal system here in the US, attempted murder would carry an 11 year minimum and a 14 year maximum according to the sentencing guideline (assuming no prior history).
I also agree that a life sentence is a bit harsh. Although, there is overwhelming evidence to convict them, I just do not believe that enough steps were taken to warrant life imprisonment. I think that the fact that Stone was home with the door unlocked put the Judge over the edge thinking about “what could have happened”. But, I do not believe sentences should be based on this concept. It seems that life imprisonment is the proper sentence for an actual carried out murder. Here, thankfully, this crime falls short of murder. Although, it was planned, poorly, we just do not know enough to sentence a man to life in prison.
It appears that Joss Stone wasn’t their only target. A detective who testified at the trial mentioned a diary he came across while searching Liverpool’s home. The diary entries suggested that Ms. Stone was targeted for her connection to the British Royal Family, but it also made mention of Chris Brown, Beyonce, Eminem, R. Kelly, Girls Aloud, Craig Davis, and Dizzee Rascal. I have to agree with the judge that this was a crazy scheme, contemplated by a crazy person. While Ms. Stone admitted to her lax home security habits, several of the other named celebrities are essentially untouchable. You would have to be crazy to try to kill Beyonce. Given these additional facts, I do agree that life in prison may have been harsh since it appears that these criminals require psychological help. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were released after ten years then transferred to a mental health facility after being evaluated.