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Viaduct killer fails to get her sentence cut

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 14, 2012

By Name

  • TRAGIC DEATH: Steven Hoskin.

  • APPEAL REJECTED: Sarah Bullock.

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STEVEN HOSKIN'S murder rocked St Austell and blew the lid on failings of a multitude of Cornish agencies to protect society's most vulnerable.

Now murderer Sarah Bullock, who, in 2006, was 16 years old when she helped her then boyfriend, Darren Stewart, torture, drug and kill 38-year-old Mr Hoskin, has failed to have her ten-year sentence cut.

Mr Hoskin, who had severe learning disabilities, endured a two-hour torrent of torture. He was beaten, forced to wear a dog collar, led around on a lead and his head was used to stub out cigarettes.

He was falsely accused of being a paedophile and forced to take up to 70 paracetemol tablets in a bid to get him to take his own life. He was taken to the railway viaduct at Gover and forced to hang by his fingernails over a 135ft drop.

The gang, formed of Stewart, Bullock and friend Martin Pollard, then allowed him to climb back for "a last cigarette" which Bullock had prepared for him. Hoskin was then forced over the side once more where Bullock stamped on his fingers until he lost his grip and plunged to his death.

Bullock, by then 17, was convicted at Truro Crown Court in July 2007, and jailed for a minimum of ten years for her part in the shocking murder.

Stewart received a minimum 25 -year term. Pollard was found guilty of manslaughter and was jailed for eight years.

Last week Bullock's lawyer asked but failed to convince top judge, Mr Justice Mitting, sitting at London's High Court, that her sentence should be reduced on the basis of her "exceptional" behaviour since being jailed.

The court was told, that freed from Stewart's grasp, she had "never been anything but polite" to jail staff and had gained qualifications including literacy, hairdressing and horticulture.

She had also been described as "very remorseful". The judge acknowledged she had raised £370 for charity but said that her disciplinary record had been "good, but not perfect".

Although her conduct in prison had been "excellent", it was too early to describe it as "exceptional".

He said: "As of now, the exceptional progress criterion is not satisfied," adding: "That does not mean that it may not be satisfied in the future."

Reg Broad, from East Cornwall Mencap, said although Bullock had the right to appeal he was "not surprised that the sentence was not reduced".

He said the Hoskin tragedy "shone a spotlight" on how the most vulnerable were being protected when placed within the community.

Bullock can next apply for parole in June 2016.

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  • dma5545  |  December 16 2012, 11:07AM

    Bring back hanging!

    Rate   8
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  • jimjams2011  |  December 14 2012, 8:56PM

    Dear Cornish Guardian, If you read the serious case review into the death of Mr Hoskin you would see that he did not have ' severe learning disabilities', he had a borderline learning disability which was part of the problem. Some services identified him as having a 'learning difficulty', whilst others identified him as having a 'learning disability'. A 'severe' learning disability would have left no one in any doubt that this man was vulnerable. It is the resonsibility of the media, which you are part of to inpart correct information. Regards,

    Rate   4
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  • cheekyman_jr  |  December 14 2012, 11:42AM

    It shouldn't matter whether she's been a good little girl in Prison or not...she tortured and killed a human being...she doesn't deserve anything other than to rot in jail

    Rate   14
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  • josdave  |  December 14 2012, 9:59AM

    Should have been increased. It was a very callous murder and deserved a long sentence.

    Rate   15
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