Arsonist jailed for 12 years for two killings — (The Star)

SSRI Ed note: After drunken party man on antidepressants stabs brother's girlfriend to death, sets house on fire, killing brother. Gets life. Mental illness blamed

Original article no longer available

The Star

Mar 14, 2004

A MAN convicted of killing his brother’s girlfriend has been told he must spend 12 years in prison.
Charleston Cullen of Haywood Avenue, Deepcar, Sheffield, stabbed Julie Houghton to death with a kitchen knife before setting fire to the Wybourn house she shared with his brother Keith.
Cullen’s efforts also claimed the life of the brother he said he was trying to protect.
In February he received a life sentence after admitting murder and pleading guilty to arson, endangering the life of a 14-year-old neighbour. He was not sentenced over the death of his brother after plea bargaining by his legal team.
At a new hearing at the High Court in London, Cullen’s tariff was set at 12 years in the first case of its kind to be heard since new legislation was introduced.
Cullen committed his crimes last September, before the 2003 Criminal Justice Act came into force. That stipulates sentences for murder must range from between 15 years to “whole life”.
But he was convicted in February after the law was introduced. Cullen’s legal team successfully argued that to give him the higher tariff would be “unjust”.
Judge Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled Cullen will serve 12 years behind bars before being considered for parole. He will only be freed when he is no longer considered a public danger and will remain on life licence, meaning he can be recalled to prison if he commits any further offences.
The 160 days Cullen has already served behind bars will be deducted
The judge said he had given Cullen credit for “genuine remorse”, prompt admissions to police and the fact that he was clinically depressed and on medication at the time.
He said Cullen had pleaded guilty without a fight and there was “no premeditation”.
Cullen stabbed Miss Houghton to death after a drunken party to celebrate his 36th birthday at her house in Wragg Road, Wybourn.
He sprayed her body with petrol and set her bed alight before ripping pipes from the gas meter to try and cause an explosion.
Although a safety device stopped the gas leak his brother Keith, 33, died of smoke inhalation as he lay beside his dead girlfriend.
Mr Justice Tugendhat said the fire had threatened the life of a 14-year-old girl next door.
06 March 2004

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