Murderer appeals against her sentence

A KILLER who set alight a teenage girl in a romantic dispute was yesterday battling to reduce the minimum number of years she should spend behind bars for the murder.

A KILLER who set alight a teenage girl in a romantic dispute was yesterday battling to reduce the minimum number of years she should spend behind bars for the murder.

Emma Last, of Braintree, admitted killing Debra Carne at Chelmsford Crown Court in February 2003, and was jailed in April this year.

Her “tariff” - the minimum time she must spend behind bars before being considered eligible for parole - was set at 20 years.

But yesterday her legal team, headed by Sonia Woodley QC, argued the tariff was far too long, especially in the light of her guilty plea.


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Ms Woodley said Last's co-accused, 21-year-old Kerry Bauer, who had also been living at The Foyer hostel in Braintree, had the same level of culpability but received a tariff of just 17 years after being convicted of murder by a jury.

The barrister said right-minded members of the public would think something had gone wrong in the administration of justice if told about the sentencing “disparity.”

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She added that 20-year-old Last had a “disturbed and difficult” background and was suffering a borderline personality disorder, while Bauer had a stable family life.

Ms Woodley said Last had a “great sense of injustice” at what had happened over sentencing, and her tariff should be reduced to well under 17 years.

But England and Wales' most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf, said that although Bauer may have been treated too leniently, that did not necessarily mean Last's tariff should be cut.

Sitting with Mr Justice Silber and Mrs Justice Rafferty, he reserved his decision in the case, which he will hand down at the start of next year.

The court how heard Debra, 17, was attacked after Steven Wood, 21, of Parker Way, Halstead, spent a night at her mother's home in Swan Court, Sible Hedingham.

Wood's girlfriend Nicola Hollinshead, 19, also of Halstead, became jealous, and along with Last and Bauer, the pair hatched a plan of revenge.

Debra was lured to a lay-by near Sible Hedingham, by Wood in July 2002, where she was physically attacked, strangled and then set on fire.

Last poured petrol over her, Bauer lit a match and Hollinshead provided an alibi for the trio by remaining at a nearby hostel.

Wood was convicted of manslaughter while Hollinshead was found guilty of conspiracy to inflict grievous bodily harm.

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