Teenage killer has tariff cut

A 12-year minimum custody "tariff" for a young man who was only 17 when he was involved in kicking and stamping an innocent victim to death was today reduced to nine years by the Lord Chief Justice.

Lord Woolf said Darren Dermody's part in the attack did not directly result in the victim's death and his responsibility was less than that of his two co-accused.

He had no previous convictions and while in custody had behaved "in a most commendable and quite exceptional manner", the judge said.

Dermody, now 22, was sentenced to be detained during Her Majesty's Pleasure after being convicted at Nottingham Crown Court in December 1997 of murdering Ivan Milasinovich, who had intervened as peacemaker to try to break up a scuffle in the town centre of Mansfield, Notts.

He will now be able to apply for parole after completing nine years for "retribution and deterrence" instead of 12 years.

But Lord Woolf refused to intervene in two other cases where 12-year minimum terms had been set for juveniles detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure for murder.

Tahir Malik, now 24, was 16 when he battered and strangled a nine-year-old boy in a motiveless murder in 1993.

The child, Akhlaq Ahmed Razzaq, was murdered after he wandered off to play on swings as his family watched a cricket match in a park at Slough. His naked body was found hours later hidden in bushes.

The killer, who lived at Ragstone Road in the Berkshire town and was nicknamed "Wolfboy" because of his hairy face and squat figure, was sentenced at the Old Bailey in July 1994.

Bernard Coddington, 23, was 17 when he stabbed a man to death in a row over a woman. He was sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court in January 1997.

In each case, the 12-year tariff was recommended by the trial judge, confirmed by the Lord Chief Justice of the time and accepted by the then Home Secretary.

Today's tariff reviews by Lord Woolf were among 67 cases in which detainees are seeking reductions in their minimum sentences under the principles laid down in the case of James Bulger's killers, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables.

Lord Woolf's recommendations will be made to Home Secretary David Blunkett, who has agreed to act on them.

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