Mr Justice Grigson:
1. Abdalla Yones pleaded guilty to murder and consequently was sentenced to imprisonment for life. The recommendation as to the minimum term to be served by way of retribution and general deterrence was 14 years. No final decision has been notified to the offender. The purpose of these proceedings is to set the minimum term under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
2. The term fixed under the Act must not exceed that likely to have been set by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. That term is to be determined by reference to the Guidance to Judges given by Lord Bingham CJ on 10th February 1997 and by Lord Woolf CJ on the 31st May 2002.
3. The Court may not make an order that the early release provisions should not apply to the offender unless such a notification would have been made under the practice followed by the Secretary of State before December 2002.
4. The determination of the minimal term in relation to mandatory Life sentences is governed by Schedule 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
5. The starting point of a minimum term is to be decided by the seriousness of the offender’s conduct.
6. There are 3 categories of seriousness:
(a) Where the offender is over 21 and the seriousness of his conduct is exceptionally high, the starting point is a whole life order.
(b) Where the offender is over 18 and the seriousness of his conduct is particularly high, the starting point is 30 years.
(c) Where the offender is over 18 and the case does not come within (a) or (b) above, the starting point is 15 years.
7. The seriousness of the offender’s conduct is to be determined by the criteria set out in paragraph 4(2) for exceptionally high cases and in paragraph 5(2) for particularly high cases. Conduct which does not qualify for either comes into the third category.
8. Having determined the starting point, the Court may either increase the minimum term or reduce it, depending upon whether there are aggravating or mitigating factors. Some of these factors are listed in paragraphs 10 and 11.
9. Having fixed the minimum term the Court must deduct from it time spent in custody on remand in relation to the murder.
10. If the offender has shown exceptionally good progress whilst in prison, that progress may be recognised by a reduction in the minimum term which would otherwise have been chosen.
11. Where there is evidence of the effect of the murder upon the victim’s family, the Court gives proper consideration to that material.
On 12th October 2002 Abdella Yones stabbed to death his 16 year old daughter Heshu in the flat where the family lived. It was a frenzied attack. Heshu suffered 11 wounds to her face, neck and body. He then tried to cut his own throat before jumping from a 3rd floor balcony. He made a further attempt to take his own life whilst in custody awaiting trial.
Abdella Yones is a Kurdish national who had spent most of his life involved in the Kurdish struggle for independence. He brought his family to the UK when Heshu was 5. He sought and was granted asylum. Heshu went to local schools. Abdella Yones was a loving father and he and Heshu got on well. Heshu formed a relationship with a young Lebanese Christian. Abdella Yonis became aware of it but not that it had become a sexual relationship. Hesu’s progress at college deteriorated. She failed her examinations. She incurred substantial bills with use of her mobile phone. On 10th October 2002 Abdella Yones received an anonymous letter in which the author described Heshu as a prostitute and slut who regularly slept with her boyfriend. Abdella Yones did nothing immediately, but on 12th October he was left alone with Heshu in the flat. He heard her on her mobile phone. He has no recollection of how he acquired the knife nor of the actual attack on Heshu. He recognised that he had killed his daughter and had destroyed his family. He felt that the appropriate punishment was death. The judge accepted those feelings as genuine.
13. Material before the Court
Trial Judge’s Report.
Transcript of Mitigation and Sentence Remarks
Submissions on behalf of Abdella Yones.
Whilst submissions by Steel and Shamash Solicitor’s largely repeated Counsel’s mitigation, it is argued that the 14 years recommended by the judge was too high and that the proper figure should be 9 or 10 years. They point out that the offender pleaded guilty.
15. Aggravating Features
The victim was a child of 16 and the daughter of the offender.
16. Mitigating Factors
It would seem that the murder was unpremeditated. It is arguable that Heshu’s conduct provoked her father. His remorse was genuine.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 the starting point is 15 years. A starting point of 14 years is easily justified under the Bingham/Woolf guidelines. This was a terrible crime as Abdalla Yones himself recognised. In my judgment there is no compelling reason for departing from the recommendation of the trial judge. I set the minimum term as 14 years less the 7 months and 6 days spent in custody on remand.
Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 01:58 GMT 02:58 UK
'Honour killing' father begins sentence Abdalla Yones
Heshu's father Abdalla cut his own throat after killing his daughter
A Muslim man is beginning a life sentence for murdering his daughter because he disapproved of her Christian boyfriend.
Abdullah Yones admitted stabbing 16-year-old Heshu to death at their home in Acton, west London.
The Old Bailey heard Kurdish Abdalla Yones, 48, murdered Heshu on 12 October 2002 because he feared she was becoming westernised.
He pleaded for the court to pass the death sentence on him for his "appalling" crime after he tried to take his own life.
Heshu, who was described as popular and fun-loving, planned to run away from home after starting a relationship with an 18-year-old Lebanese teacher.
In a letter to her parents, apparently showing she planned to run away, Heshu wrote: "Bye Dad, sorry I was so much trouble.
Violence in the name of culture will not be tolerated Detective Inspector Brent Hyatt
"Me and you will probably never understand each other, but I'm sorry I wasn't what you wanted, but there's some things you can't change.
"Hey, for an older man you have a good strong punch and kick.
"I hope you enjoyed testing your strength on me, it was fun being on the receiving end. Well done."
Yones was a political refugee who fled Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq 10 years ago.
Cut his throat
The court heard that after repeatedly stabbing his daughter and slitting her throat, he cut his own throat and jumped from a third floor balcony.
Scotland Yard described it as a "brutal honour killing" - a reference to the practice of women being killed by male relatives to redeem the family name.
Commander Andy Baker holds a photograph of Heshu
Photographs and a letter by Heshu were released by police
Detective Inspector Brent Hyatt said: "There was nothing, nothing at all 'honourable' about her murder.
"After hacking his daughter to death, Mr Yones has attempted every defence, from psychiatric, and diminished responsibility to extreme provocation, in order to save his own skin."
He added that Yones first claimed al-Qaeda members had broken into the flat, murdered Heshu and then attacked him. He only admitted murdering her last Monday.
Yones's counsel, Icah Peart QC, said his client wanted to be sentenced to death.
Judge Neil Denison said Yones had tried to commit suicide twice but told him he would pass the only sentence he could for murder - life imprisonment.
This is, on any view, a tragic story arising out of irreconcilable cultural differences between traditional Kurdish values and the values of western society
Judge Neil Denison
UK Muslims condemn 'honour killings'
He added: "This is, on any view, a tragic story arising out of irreconcilable cultural differences between traditional Kurdish values and the values of western society."
But Scotland Yard warned the sentence should be a warning to those who condone or stay silent about the mistreatment of women in their communities.
Commander Andy Baker added: "Violence in the name of culture will not be tolerated. Murder in the name of honour will be punished by the severest penalties available in law."
Scotland Yard believe there were 12 'honour killings' in the UK last year and said they were not restricted to Muslims, but also occurred in Sikh and Christian families.
A specialist police unit is researching the practice but police say only a handful of people believed 'honour killings' were an appropriate cultural response.
Mr Baker said people who had tried to shield Abdalla Yones from police could now be investigated on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
"We are completely satisfied that some members of the community, or his friends, tried to assist him in that cover-up," he said.
"It's not about one person committing the murder, it's about the few that acknowledge it and support it and are involved in it."