Hailsham baseball bat killer fails in bid to reduce jail sentence

Court news.
Court news.

A Hailsham man who was jailed as a teenager for his part in the “savage” murder of a dad-of-two outside his home has been refused a reduction in his minimum jail term by a top judge.

Luke Jones, now 25, was one of a gang of youths who attacked 40-year-old Gary Rae on his doorstep in Hailsham High Street in May 2005, beating him to death with baseball bats.

The assault, of “unrestrained savagery”, was organised by Jones’ accomplice, William Devall, who thought Mr Rae had been sleeping with his ex-girlfriend and persuaded others to join in.

Jones, then of Meadow Road, denied murder but was convicted at Lewes Crown Court in 2006 and sentenced to life, with a minimum of 12 years to serve before he could apply for release on licence.

At the time, he was said to have boasted about what he and his friends had done and laughed, joked and misbehaved through his trial, showing a complete lack of remorse for the killing.

But, now describing him as “mature, compassionate, insightful and articulate”, Jones’ lawyers applied to a High Court judge for a reduction in the minimum to give him a chance of early parole.

Although he had initially got into trouble in custody, he had made exceptional progress in more recent years, even providing a listening service to other prisoners who are at risk of reoffending.

He had done charity work, raising money for Children in Need and Help for Heroes, and was showing increasing maturity as time went on, Mr Justice Supperstone was told by Jones’ lawyers.

They asked the judge to reduce Jones’ tariff, the minimum term he must serve before applying for parole, but the bid for an early chance of release was rejected.

Giving his judgment, the judge said: “It is apparent that, over the last two to three years, he has made good progress. That is very much to his credit.

“However, in my judgment, the progress he has made does not amount to exceptional and unforeseen progress.

“Accordingly, I am not able to recommend a reduction in the tariff.”

Jones can only be freed after serving his minimum term if the Parole Board is convinced he is no longer a danger to the public.