Mum of Northampton's Louis Ryan Menezes applauds plan to scrap early release for violent offenders

On the day of what would have been Louis' 19th birthday yesterday (January 23), mum Cheri says "a sentence should be a sentence".

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 4:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 4:42 pm

The mum of a Northampton teenager who was stabbed to death in 2018 has welcomed plans to scrap 'early release' for prisoners after hearing her son's killer is set for release in three years' time.

Louis Ryan Menezes was killed by a stab wound to the heart in Drayton Walk, Kingsthorpe, in May 2018. He was 17.

His killer, 18-year-old Amari Smith, of Penfold Close, was jailed for nine years and four months in September 2019 after he was convicted of manslaughter by a jury.

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Amari Smith was sentenced to more than nine years in 2019 for killing Louis, but is set to be released on licence in 2023.
Amari Smith was sentenced to more than nine years in 2019 for killing Louis, but is set to be released on licence in 2023.

But, because UK sentencing laws mean offenders are released at the halfway mark of their jail term and serve the rest under conditions known as being 'under licence', Smith is set to be released in 2023 after just four years.

Now, justice secretary Robert Buckland has this week proposed a government plan to end early release for prisoners jailed for violence, sexual offences and terrorism.

It would mean offenders convicted of sexual offences, manslaughter and GBH would be released two-thirds of the way through their sentence instead of the halfway mark, and will expect stricter license conditions.

Louis' mum Cheri - who spoke to the Chronicle & Echo on what would have been her son's 19th birthday - said in response to the plans: "A sentence should mean a sentence.

Justice secretary Robert Buckland has announced plans to only release serious offenders on licence after they have served two-thirds of their sentence.

"What kind of punishment is there in halfway release? When my son's killer is released he will be 21. In three years time he gets to come out and live his whole life.

"It's an insult to us, my son and the justice system.

"We miss Louis so much. We are always grateful to the people who support us every day."

Another Northampton case is Winston Reid, who was jailed for 20 years in 2017 for multiple counts of rape and violence. The family of one of Reid's victims told the Chronicle & Echo how the sentence was "disappointing" because he would effectively serve as little as eight years.

The mum of Louis Ryan Menezes says she is "outraged" her son's killer will be released after four years of his eight-year sentence because of early release.

The plan by Robert Buckland have been criticised as an attempt to politicise the London Bridge attack in November 2019, which was carried out by a convicted terrorist who was released on licence after serving eight years of a 16-year sentence.

If approved, the changes would come into force on April 1, but would not retroactively affect prisoners sentences before it was implemented.

Judges already have the power to delay the automatic release of prisoners and can extend sentences if they view the offender to be "dangerous" or a danger to the public - such a Sonny Stewart, who was jailed in Northampton this week for 11 years for GBH after the judge ruled him as dangerous.

In the UK, prisoners are commonly released halfway through their prison sentence to serve the rest of it "on licence".
Winston Reid, who was jailed for 20 years in 2017 for rape. His victim's family were "disappointed" at the time as Reid would effectively only serve eight years under early release.