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Machete burglar' fails to overturn indefinite sentence

PUBLISHED: 16:56 25 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:33 12 August 2010

A VIOLENT burglar who threatened a terrified family with a machete has failed to have his potentially life-long sentence overturned.  Martin Mitchell, 30, of no fixed abode, was handed an indefinite term of imprisonment for public protection (IPP) at the

A VIOLENT burglar who threatened a terrified family with a machete has failed to have his potentially life-long sentence overturned.

Martin Mitchell, 30, of no fixed abode, was handed an indefinite term of imprisonment for public protection (IPP) at the Old Bailey in August last year after he was convicted of aggravated burglary at a house in Beckenham.

He was ordered to spend a minimum of four-and-a-half years behind bars before even being considered for parole.

An IPP works in the same way as a life sentence, in that those serving them are only freed once they can convince the parole board they are no longer a danger to the public. Last Friday, top judges at London's Court of Appeal were told that the IPP was "wrong in principle" and should be quashed, and that, even if that wasn't the case, the minimum term was too long. But Mrs Justice Rafferty, sitting with Lord Justice Dyson and Mr Justice Sweeney, said Mitchell had subjected his victims to a terrifying ordeal, and had previously been convicted of other violent offences. In 1996 he was sent to a Young Offenders Institution for four counts of robbery and possession of a firearm.

She said that neither the IPP, nor the four-and-a-half year tariff, could be challenged. The court heard that Mitchell and two other men broke into the family home in Beckenham on March 22, 2008, and shouted "where is the money".

They threatened to use the machete on the oldest son of the family, Marvin Todd, before making off with £800 which was contained in a safe, and a BMW motorcar. Mitchell was seen in the vehicle two days later, but when arrested denied any wrongdoing. He was picked out at an identification parade.

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