A man from Mablethorpe who raped a 14-year-old girl has been awarded damages from the European Court of Human Rights after a delay in his appeal.
Samuel Betteridge, 58, who was a funfair worker, served a total of seven years in prison after pleading guilty in 2005 to two counts of rape and one of attempted rape.
Betteridge received €750 in damages and €2,000 in costs after the court in Strasbourg, France ruled that his human rights had been infringed in concern to a 13 month delay in his parole review (article 5 and article 13).
Betteridge was given an indeterminate sentence with a minimum tariff of three-and-a-half-years and when this expired in December 2008, he had to wait until January 2010 for a parole hearing, which the court ruled had violated his right to a ‘speedy review of his detention.’
Betteridge was released from prison just before Christmas in 2012.
A wave of case delays came during a time when the Parole Board was in crisis due to the hundreds of applications they were swamped with for prisoner releases after the Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPP) was introduced.
The IPP policy was introduced by the Labour government in 2003 for offenders whom it was believed needed to be held in prison until they no longer posed a threat to the public.
In June 2009 a High Court in the UK ruled that Betteridge’s human rights had indeed been violated, caused by a ‘lack of man power in the Parole Board’, but found there was no conceivable claim for damages.
Subsequently an application was lodged the the court of human rights in December the same year.
On January 29 seven judges sitting at the European Court of Human Rights, including Paul Mahoney of the UK, acknowledged that ‘steps had been taken by the authorities to try and address the systemic delays in Parole Board hearings’.
But the court ruled that the delay in reviewing Mr Betteridge’s case was the ‘direct result of the failure of the authorities to anticipate the demand which would be placed on the prison system following the introduction of IPP sentencing.’
Justice secretary Chris Grayling condemned the court’s decision afterwards, and admitted that the Ministry of Justice was considering an appeal against it.
He said: “This is yet another example of a decision I think should be taken by the British courts.
“I am very disappointed and I’m considering an appeal.”
Last year the IPP policy was axed under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.