1. Paul Stephen Clinton was born on 19 October
1971. On 28 February 1990 he was convicted of two counts of murder
and two counts of attempted murder, and, in addition, one count of
robbery arising out of an incident on 2 August 1989 at an amusement
arcade. Mr Clinton was 17 at the time the offence was committed.
2. The tariff recommended by both the trial judge
and the Lord Chief Justice was 20 years. This tariff was fixed by
the Secretary of State in January 1991. It also appears that this
tariff was reaffirmed by the Minister on 4 August 1999 and 19 March
3. The facts of the offence are drawn from the
trial judge's report to the Home Secretary dated 7 March 1990. Mr
Clinton and four others intended to commit a robbery at an amusement
arcade. The instigator of the offending, Victor Castigador, had a
grievance against the proprietors of the property. The relief
manager and a cashier were carrying out the usual cashing-up process
when the defendants arrived at the premises.
4. It was alleged that both Castigador and the
defendant produced guns and threatened the occupants. Castigador
obtained keys for the safe from the relief manager and it was
alleged that Mr Clinton held a gun to that man's neck. The keys were
used to unlock the safe and cash was taken.
5. Both the relief manager and cashier were
forced out of the office and into the vault and at that stage the
two security guards were forced into the inner cage of the vault and
told to stay on their knees by a man holding a gun. The two guards
were then tied up.
6. White spirits were poured over the heads of
the staff. Castigador and Clinton then lit matches and threw them
into the cage and retreated, locking the door. At 7.55am the
following morning staff discovered the two victims of the fire and
both the relief manager and cashier who had survived. Both security
guards died from asphyxia and inhalation of the fire fumes.
7. Police and ambulance were called and the
victims were taken to hospital and a full investigation into the
fire was carried out. Both the relief manager and the cashier who
were subject of the attempted murder count on the indictment
suffered serious injury at the hands of the defendants. Yuri Gomez,
the relief manager, suffered about 30% full thickness body surface
burns including the whole of the left arm from shoulder to fingers,
patches on the face, right arm, back and chest. He also suffered
severe inhalation burn injury, which complicated his asthma and
required immediate artificial ventilation by medical services.
8. Deborah Alvarez, the cashier, suffered about
28% mixed depth body surface burns, mainly full thickness on her
face, both arms and both hands, back, buttocks and thighs. She also
suffered smoke inhalation burn of the upper airways and lungs which
caused severe respiratory failure and which required the immediate
use of artificial ventilation. She was hypothermic on admission to
9. The trial judge noted that Mr Clinton was
heard joking about the whole incident a few days later. He also
noted that Mr Clinton had at the time of the offence already
received a separate six-year sentence for robbery.
10. The most recent report prepared on Mr Clinton
was prepared by HMP Shepton Mallet and is dated 20 August 2003. The
report noted that Mr Clinton's progression at an earlier juncture of
his sentence may be partly attributed to policy changes within the
Lifer System as much as a reaction to his progress. The Report
further noted that, notwithstanding the systematic change, Mr
Clinton has made significant personal progress in the last five or
six years which has contributed to his being held in Category C
11. The previous reports highlighted that Mr
Clinton has consistently denied guilt for the murder although the
more recent reports indicate that he now understands why he may be
guilty by joint enterprise and also understands why this could have
resulted in his conviction. However, Mr Clinton continues to refute
the evidence of the victims and denies his involvement in the
setting alight of the four victims. He has expressed remorse about
the deaths and stated that the offence disgusts him. He has also
stated that the biggest regret of all for him is the fact that lives
were needlessly taken and wasted and destroyed (letter from Mr
Clinton dated 5 August 2003).
12. Mr Clinton has a gift for languages and has
studied four or five languages. He also aspires to undertake a
course in photography. He had been awaiting a course in the
Gymnasium, which it appears he was unable to take up due to his
impending transfer to HMP Channings Wood (report 20 August 2003).
However, earlier reports indicate that in spite of Mr Clinton's
intelligence, he was unemployed for a long time by choice,
questioning the motive for work at HMP Grendon (Progress Report
dated 8 June 2002).
13. Representations have been made, on behalf of
Mr Clinton, by his solicitors in a statement dated 2 September 2003.
These representations seek to highlight Mr Clinton's childhood,
which was punctuated by physical abuse and violence in the
environment of his father. The statement highlights the detrimental
effect on Mr Clinton of the lengthy custodial sentence in particular
having regard to his young age. The representations also make clear
he seeks an oral hearing.
14. The statement highlights Mr Clinton's
transfer to a Category C prison seven years ahead of his tariff
expiry date although his case cannot be referred to the Parole Board
for another three years. They submit that this illustrates, in
accordance with the Prison Service's own guidelines, that he has
successfully completed the bulk of his offending behaviour work. The
statement further highlights Mr Clinton's understanding of the
causes of his criminal behaviour and his acceptance of
responsibility for his involvement in the offence.
15. Relatives of the two deceased victims were
contacted and expressed the view that the full sentence should be
served. They oppose any reduction in the tariff.
16. One of the victims who survived, Mr Gomez (the
relief manager), has made a statement dated 16 January 2003 in which
he articulates his opposition to any reduction in the tariff of 20
years. The police have also spoken to Ms Alvarez (the cashier) who
has also expressed the view that she does not believe that 12 years
is a long enough to reflect the criminality of the behaviour. Mr
Gomez has been left disabled by the incident. He has only one lung
and is dependent on oxygen and has severe burns and scarring. Ms
Alverez still suffers from injury to her windpipe and is difficult
to understand. She is severely disfigured and only leaves her house
once or twice a week. She constantly falls over because of injuries
to her legs and continues to suffer fractures to her feet because of
17. Despite the representations of the offender's
solicitors, the tariff imposed was perfectly appropriate and I see
nothing in the papers before me to justify any alteration of the tariff
because of any changes in the offender's behaviour. Like the Home
Secretary, I do not consider that considerations relating to the
offender's welfare require a lower tariff to be set. I have considered
whether I would be assisted by oral representations and I am satisfied
they would not assist in this case.