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Paul Stephen CLINTON





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - Robbery
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: August 2, 1989
Date of birth: October 19, 1971
Victims profile: Two security guards
Method of murder: Burns and asphyixiation (poured white spirit over them and tossed in lit matches)
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to 20 years in prison on February 28, 1990

Royal Courts of Justice

December 11, 2003

The decision of the Lord Chief Justice on the minimum term in the case of Paul Stephen Clinton in accordance with the Practice Direction dated 27 July 2000 (The Times 9 August 2000)

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 2001.

Facts of the Offence

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 hospital.

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.

Progress in Custody

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 conditions.

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).

Representations on Behalf of Mr Clinton

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.

Representations on Behalf of the Victims

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 these falls.


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.



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