Autistic man who killed sister given life sentence at Court of Appeal
An autistic man previously jailed for five years for killing his 15-year-old sister has been given a life sentence at the Court of Appeal.
Matthew Selby, 20, choked his sister Amanda to death after an argument in a caravan at the Ty Mawr Holiday Park in Towyn, North Wales, in July 2021.
After pleading guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility, in December 2022 he was handed an extended sentence of 10 years – made up of a five-year custodial term and five years on extended licence.
On Wednesday this was challenged on behalf of the Attorney General, with lawyers arguing Selby should have received a life sentence to protect the public.
Following a hearing, judges at the Court of Appeal replaced his current sentence with a life sentence with a three-year, four-month minimum term, minus the time already spent in prison.
As he has now been given a life sentence, Selby will have to have his case considered by the Parole Board before he can be released from prison.
Lord Justice Stuart-Smith said the case was an “appalling tragedy”, adding: “It is a tragedy from every perspective and for everyone involved.”
The court in London heard the siblings had been on holiday with their father when they returned to their caravan after a trip and began arguing.
Selby lunged at his sister after she hit him with a plug, causing a minor injury to his bottom lip.
Amanda then fell to the floor between two beds in the room before Selby began choking her.
The court heard Selby has autism spectrum disorder with intermittent explosive disorder, which causes aggressive outbursts.
He has several previous recorded incidents, including a caution for battery against a teacher in 2014 when he was 11, and a conviction for two offences of battery, against his sister and mother, in 2015.
The court was told that the Attorney General's Office (AGO) did not dispute parts of the original judge's sentencing.
Lord Justice Stuart-Smith continued: “The Attorney General's submission, however, is that having correctly found the offender was dangerous, the judge should have imposed a discretionary life sentence to protect the public on the unusual facts of this case.”
The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Lavender and Mrs Justice Heather Williams, said there was no evidence to say how long Selby may pose a risk to the public.
“What the court is concerned with at this point is risk to others,” Lord Justice Stuart-Smith said.
He continued that Selby posed a high risk, adding: “Not merely was there no reliable evidence, there was no evidence at all.
“All that can be said is that there was a hope that the offender would mature.”
“We are satisfied that the criteria for the imposition of a life sentence was and has been met,” Lord Justice Stuart-Smith added.
He said that the risk posed by Selby and the lack of evidence about how long he may pose a danger “lead to the conclusion that the sentence imposed by the judge below should be quashed”.
“If anything can be done within the prison system to address the offender's complex problems, it is obvious that it should be done,” Lord Justice Stuart-Smith concluded.