Details of Hamilton's previous offence
Attracta Harron went missing
on the morning of 11th December 2003 when she was returning to her home from Mass in
Murlog, outside Lifford, Co. Donegal.
Over the following months, amidst intense media coverage, her family searched desperately for her throughout Ireland in the hope that she was still alive.
On 28th March, 2004, 21 year old Trevor Hamilton from near Sion Mills (about 3 miles from Strabane) was charged with Attracta's murder.
On 5th April, 2004, police using specially trained sniffer dogs recovered Attracta's body from a shallow grave beside a stream outside Sion Mills.
On Easter Sunday 11th April, 2004 Attracta was finally laid to rest in the cemetery attached to Murlog church - the church where she was married and were she had attended mass on the morning she disappeared.
Hamilton's trial commenced on 27th February, 2006 and on 12th April 2006 he was found guilty of her murder.
On 4th August 2006, Hamilton was given a 'whole life' sentence for the brutal murder of Attracta, the first such sentence passed in Northern Ireland since the introduction of The Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001.
Hamilton launched an immediate appeal against both the verdict and his sentence. At the appeal hearing on 19th May, 2008 Hamilton's legal team announced that he had dropped his appeal against the verdict but was continuing with his appeal against the whole life sentence.
On 20th June 2008, the Appeal Court quashed Hamilton's 'whole life' sentence and instead imposed a 35 year tariff; the judge emphasised that the 35 years is a minimum before Hamilton can even be considered for parole and even then, it will only be considered if he is no longer a threat to the public. He told Hamilton that based on his record to date, he is likely to spend the rest of his life in jail.
The full Appeal Court Judgement can be found here
MASRAM Report on how the Hamilton case was handled by the various
Press release from NI Courts Service:
Mr Justice McLaughlin, sitting in the Crown Court in Dungannon, today
confirmed that Trevor Hamilton will spend the rest of his life in prison
for the murder of Attracta Harron in December 2003, Trevor Hamilton was
convicted of murder on 12 April 2006 after trial before a jury,
The sentencing process involves the judge establishing the starting point for the sentence and considering whether the mitigating and aggravating factors relating to the accused and the offence may produce a variation of the initial starting point.
In determining the sentence, Mr Justice McLaughlin considered that there was no dispute that a higher starting point should apply and that there were no mitigating factors. He told Trevor Hamilton:
The judge then set out the aggravating factors including Trevor Hamilton's "appalling previous record"; the pattern of previous offending which showed a "complete failure to respond to the work of the various agencies and... devious behaviour on your part designed to mislead them to seek a more favourable outcome"; the concealment of the body and the destruction of evidence in a calculating and systematic fashion; the abduction of Mrs Harron when she was alone which must have added greatly to her distress and fear; and the fact that Mrs Harron was attacked when walking alone and therefore "vulnerable". Mr Justice McLaughlin also noted that, although the advanced state of decomposition of the body when found precluded evidence being found which might have established a sexual assault upon Mrs Harron, he was sure that her abduction was for a sexual purpose. He said that "this overwhelming inference is supported by the similarity of the pattern of your previous offending and by the fact that you have a proven "enduring predilection to predatory, sexual and violent offending against women".
Mr Justice McLaughlin considered whether the seriousness of the offence was such that he should, in effect, impose a "whole life tariff" or whether he should fix a minimum term and allow the Life Sentence Commissioners to determine whether Trevor Hamilton should be released at some date in the future should they conclude his continued detention was no longer necessary for the protection of the public.
In conclusion, Mr Justice McLaughlin said that:
"Having regard to the presence of a number of factors which attract
the higher starting point, the major aggravating factors and the absence
of any mitigating factors, a very high tariff figure is justified,
indeed demanded in this case. The rapidity of your re- offending within
months of your first convictions and later release from prison, the
gravity of the offences committed [...] in 2000, the sinister similarity
in the circumstances of those offences and the death of Mrs Harron
together with the complete lack of any remorse on your part have however
driven me to the conclusion that the demand for retribution and the need
for deterrence of people who think and act like you that this is quite
an exceptional case. A rapist who treats a victim as you treated [your
victim in 2000] and who threatens to kill her to secure her silence, and
who then kills another victim who he has abducted in these circumstances
and does so within four months of completing a seven year term of
detention must face a severe sanction in the absence of any mitigation.
What you did to Mrs Harron, a good and loving woman, was at once nauseating and horrifying, it was the stuff of nightmares and the epitome of the loss of innocence in our community. What that poor woman experienced as you prepared to execute her, whatever weapon you used to accomplish it, was so appalling that it demands retribution of the most severe kind. When the multiple aggravating factors are taken into account, particularly that you murdered her so soon after your release from prison from such serious offences, I conclude that only one punishment is appropriate especially as you have been given a second chance in the past but it had no effect on your behaviour.
I shall therefore order you to be sentenced to life imprisonment and that the release provisions of Article 5(1) of the 2001 Order [The Life Sentence (Northern Ireland) Order 2001] shall not apply to you. This is necessary in my opinion to satisfy the demand for retribution and to deter others from committing such appalling acts. You will in consequence spend the rest of your life in prison."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
2. Trevor Hamilton was convicted of five counts of indecent behaviour
on 17 December 1999. He was placed on probation but was then charged and
later convicted of rap e, attempted buggery, indecent assault and making
threats to kill in connection with offences which were committed on 16
February 2000. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment to be
followed by one year's probation and was released on 18 August 2003. On
release, he was required to undertake a programme for the prevention of
sexual abuse and was subjected to visits and contact by the Probation
Service. However, within four months of his release he had abducted and
murdered Mrs Harron.
MASRAM Report on how the Hamilton case was handled by the various