Application no. 17413/03
by Glyn Edmond PYRAH
against the United Kingdom
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 25 August 2005 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr J. Casadevall, President,
Sir Nicolas Bratza,
Mr G. Bonello,
Mr R. Maruste,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr L. Garlicki,
Mr J. Borrego Borrego, judges,
and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 23 May 2003,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the letter from the applicant’s solicitor,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Glyn Edmond Pyrah, is a United Kingdom national, who was born in 1955 and was, at the time of introduction of the application, serving a sentence of life imprisonment in HM Prison Leyhill, Gloucester. He was represented before the Court by Mr J. Dickinson, a solicitor practising in Sheffield.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 26 January 1998, the applicant was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, as required by section 1(1) of the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965. The circumstances of the offence were that in October 1996, the applicant, who had drunk heavily, saw a woman being assaulted by a man. There was medical evidence that the applicant had particular sensitivity to such a situation because, as a child, he had witnessed his mother being treated violently. Upon seeing the fracas, he approached the woman’s assailant, punched him, knocked him to the ground and kicked his head. This first kick was described as being like a rugby penalty kick. It proved fatal.
The trial judge regarded the incident as a tragic event and, when advising the Home Secretary on the tariff period to be set, drew attention to the applicant’s good record and young family. He continued:
“In my view, he does not present any danger to the community and there is no likelihood of him re-offending ...”
The trial judge considered that a prison term well below the norm would be sufficient and recommended a term of ten years to meet the requirements of retribution and deterrence. The Lord Chief Justice was of the opinion that, on the exceptional facts, a term of eight to nine years was appropriate. In December 1999, the applicant was informed that the Home Secretary had set a tariff term of eight years.
On 2 May 2001, the High Court, sitting both as the Divisional Court and as the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, refused the applicant’s application for judicial review of the decision to impose a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
On 25 November 2002, the House of Lords dismissed the applicant’s appeal, holding firstly, that his complaints were not of sufficient gravity to engage Article 3 of the Convention and secondly, that the life sentence was not arbitrary or otherwise contrary to Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.
At the date of introduction of his application, the applicant was in open prison conditions and being prepared for release.
The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention that the imposition of a mandatory life sentence in his case constituted inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. He complained under Article 5 § 1 that this sentence amounted to an arbitrary and unjustified deprivation of his liberty.
The Court observes that by letter dated 26 April 2005 the applicant’s solicitor informed the Court that the applicant had instructed them to withdraw his application and that consequently that they would not be making response to the Government’s observations on the admissibility and merits.
The Court concludes that the applicant no longer wishes to pursue his application within the meaning of Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention. Furthermore, in accordance with Article 37 § 1 in fine, the Court finds no special circumstances regarding respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols which require the examination of the application to be continued.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Michael O’Boyle Josep Casadevall