Sheffield triple killer loses bid to prove jail term breaches his human rights

Arthur Hutchinson
Arthur Hutchinson
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THE MAN responsible for one of Yorkshire’s most notorious murder inquiries today lost a claim against his whole-life prison sentence at the European Court of Human Rights.

Arthur Hutchinson, who brutally killed three members of the same family in their Sheffield home, claimed that the jail term amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment as he has no hope of release.

But judges found there had been no violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights concluded that whole-life sentences in the UK can be regarded as compatible with the article, which says no one should be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

In 2015 a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights made a smiliar finding. But Hutchinson applied for the case to be passed to the Strasbourg court’s Grand Chamber, which delivered its findings this afternoon.

Hutchinson was on the run from Selby police for rape when he knifed solicitor Basil Laitner, his wife Avril, a doctor, and son Richard in October 1983 at their home in Dore, Sheffield, in 1984.

Mr and Mrs Laitner had attended the wedding of their daughter Suzanne to Ivor Wolfe in a Sheffield synagogue. They had held a lavish reception for 200 friends and relatives before Hutchinson broke into their home.

A trial at Durham Crown Court heard he stabbed Richard Laitner with a Bowie knife as he lay in his bed. When Basil Laitner went up to investigate Hutchinson turned the knife on him, leaving him slumped on the staircase.

Hutchinson then found Mrs Laitner cowering in a bedroom. She tried offering money to make him leave, but he killed her too after a long struggle.

He boasted of his cunning and claimed the authorities would never catch him. While a fugitive, he wrote to and telephoned the Yorkshire Post.

He was eventually seized by police in woods close to his home town of Hartlepool. He denied all the charges he faced.

Hutchinson is one of only a small number of murderers told by the Home Secretary they should never be freed

The judgment has brought fresh scrutiny of the protracted issue of “life means life” terms.

The judge in his original trial ruled that he should serve a minimum of 18 years but then-home secretary Leon Brittan later determined he should face the whole-life tariff.

In 2008, Hutchinson had a domestic appeal against whole-life tariffs kicked out by the Court of Appeal.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss said: “It is right that those who commit the most heinous crimes spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

“It is also wholly right that judges are able to hand down whole-life sentences to the very worst offenders in our society.”

There are 63 inmates serving whole-life sentences, including some of the country’s most notorious criminals, such as one-eyed police killer Dale Cregan and Moors murderer Ian Brady.