Two Northampton killers, three years in jail: Calls for changes in the law after 'disgusting' prison sentences

Mohammed Rahman (left) and Arthur Billings. Photos: Northamptonshire Police
Mohammed Rahman (left) and Arthur Billings. Photos: Northamptonshire Police

Two convicted killers from Northampton could spend as little as three years in jail - leaving the victim's families and many others in dismay at the justice system.

Both Stephen Swann and Bradley Matcham's loved ones have called for changes in the law because they believe the sentences for the men responsible are not enough.

The judge in both cases, His Honour Rupert Mayo, is bound by Sentencing Council guidelines and stuck to them, taking into account both aggravating and mitigating factors when decided on the punishment.

But the families and numerous people on social media have voiced their disappointment in the length of jail time given to someone who took another's life.

Especially as only half of the sentence is actually spent in a jail cell, with the other half spent on licence.

Stephen's sister Tracey Fox told the Chronicle & Echo: "The system is just wrong. 26 months and he's going to serve 13 months of that. It's not justice.

Stephen Swann

Stephen Swann

"I'm cross because he can get on with his life and we've got to learn to live without Stephen and try to get through things."

While Bradley's family said in a statement given exclusively to the Chron: "From a family point of view, we are appalled at the sentence.

"Obviously there's something wrong with the judicial system for someone to commit this horrendous crime, be sentenced for four years in jail and be out in two."

At Northampton Crown Court on Monday (September 16), Mohammed Rahman, 21, of St James, was sentenced to 26 months in prison and banned from driving for 42 months for causing Stephen's death by careless driving and perverting the course of justice.

Bradley Matcham

Bradley Matcham

The 39-year-old father died after being struck by Rahman's speeding car on Wellingborough Road in May last year - the driver then drove off and initially tried to cover up what happened.

While Arthur Billings, 19, of Harpole, was imprisoned for four years for Bradley's manslaughter at the same court on September 9.

Bradley, 24, died in hosptial after being punched in the back of the head by Billings in the Drapery while on a night-out in February.

Bradley's brother, Richard Swann, wrote on Facebook following Rahman's hearing: "The actions of these two men will have an effect on so many people for the rest of their lives.

Both cases were heard at Northampton Crown Court

Both cases were heard at Northampton Crown Court

"'Justice', a word that is slowly losing its meaning in this country.

"After reading about the first case the other week, it didn't fill me with much confidence, and today has topped it. Absolutely disgusting."

More than 1,000 people have 'reacted' to the post with nearly 200 comments, with most of them in agreement that Rahman's jail term is not long enough.

Laura Jeyes described it as an "insult to the family and Swanny himself," while Marion Barlow wrote: "Disgusting, hope the family appeal against this appalling low sentence."

A spokesperson for the Judiciary said: “We cannot comment on individual sentences but all judges sentence according to the relevant sentencing guidelines and the facts of each individual case, which may have aggravating or mitigating factors.”

Rahman's crime was considered to be in the highest bracket, "careless or inconsiderate driving falling not far short of dangerous driving", which has a minimum custodial sentence of 36 months and a maximum of three years.

However, he was given "credit" for his guilty plea - even for a lesser charge than his original one of dangerous driving - as well as his age, lack of previous convictions and remorse.

Judge Mayo would have taken similar considerations into account when sentencing Billings, who also pleaded guilty.

The maximum sentence for unlawful act manslaughter is life in prison and the minimum is one year, with the decision varying on the defendant's degree of culpability.

For more information on the sentencing guidelines, visit sentencingcouncil.org.uk, or the Judiciary's latest 'sentencing compendium' here.