One of the men serving a life sentence for murdering a popular Northampton man in 2013 has had his conviction reduced by two years after judges ruled it ‘too high’.
Michael Francis was 32 when he and 20-year-old Mark Lewis beat Jamie McMahon to death in the courtyard of St Giles Church in Northampton.
They had initially attempted to rob Jamie as he ate a takeaway on a bench there in the early hours of the morning.
But when he resisted, Lewis, who was found to have a history of violent outbursts, engaged in what Judge Rupert Mayo described at his sentencing as a “spontaneous” attack, which was “vicious, rapid and mindless”.
Though Francis joined the attack later than his co-defendant, he received a 26-year minimum prison term - six years longer than Lewis.
Lewis was shown extra leniency for his younger age, his guilty plea and the fact that a psychiatrist’s report showed the 20-year-old had suffered a difficult childhood.
But at a Court of Appeal hearing today, sitting at Birmingham Crown Court, Francis’s sentence was reduced by a bench of senior judges.
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Sir John Thomas reduced the sentence to 24 years, minus the 282 days Francis has already spent in prison.
Summing up he said: “We have looked again at the minimum sentence imposed.
“If one takes into account the lack of an intention to kill, the fact that no weapon was used and that this was a robbery at the very bottom end of the scale, the minimum term passed by the relevant judge was too high.”
Francis, who appeared at his appeal via a video link from HMP Full Sutton, showed no emotion and spoke only to confirm his name throughout the hearing.
Speaking on his behalf, barrister Jonas Hankin had argued that the sentence given to Francis was “manifestly excessive”.
He said that there was a ‘disparity’ between the sentences of the two men, seeing as Lewis was both the instigator and aggressor in the attack on Jamie McMahon.
He said “Lewis was in any view more culpable for having instigated the violence and having stamped on the deceased’s head.”
Snooker club worker Jamie McMahon, was just 26 when he was killed on October 2, 2013.
After beating him to death, Lewis and Francis took only an iPhone and a small amount of cash which they spent on snacks.
Jamie’s family did not wish to give a statement following the appeal hearing today.