Tyne & Wear

Jail terms increased in Lee Irving murder case

Lee Irving
Image caption Lee Irving, who had learning disabilities, was killed in Newcastle in 2015

Two people who assisted in the killing of a vulnerable man have had their prison sentences increased.

Lee Irving, 24, who had learning disabilities, was tortured and killed by people he thought were his friends in Newcastle in 2015.

James Wheatley, 29, was jailed for 23 years for his murder in December.

Wheatley's mother Julie Mills and his girlfriend Nicole Lawrence have had their sentences increased by the Court of Appeal.

Mills, 52, had her eight year sentence increased to 10 years while Lawrence, 22, had her four year sentence lengthened to seven years.

Both had been found guilty of causing or allowing Mr Irving's death and perverting the course of justice.

The changes came following an appeal by the solicitor general Robert Buckland, who said their sentences were unduly lenient.

Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Clockwise from top left: James Wheatley, Julie Mills, Nicole Lawrence, Barry Imray

The sentence of their lodger Barry Imray, 35, who was jailed for three years for causing or allowing Mr Irving's death, was unchanged.

Wheatley's sentence was not the subject of an appeal.

The trial heard Mr Irving had been living with all four defendants, who had pretended to befriend him in order to gain his trust.

He was beaten by Wheatley for a prolonged period and sedated with drugs, including morphine, to prevent him escaping his captors.

When he died his body was wheeled in a pushchair and dumped on a footpath a short distance from the house.

Following the hearing, Mr Buckland said: "This is a particularly sad case where those around the victim who should have been protecting him were allowing him to live in a state of fear and violence.

"Vulnerable people should have the full protection of the law and those with disabilities should feel that crimes and violence of this nature will be taken very seriously."

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