Rapist in new prison vote bid

June Gillbanks lost her daughter Donna Marie when she was murdered by Peter Chester (below), Mrs Gillbanks' brother, in 1977.
June Gillbanks lost her daughter Donna Marie when she was murdered by Peter Chester (below), Mrs Gillbanks' brother, in 1977.
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A man serving a life sentence for raping and murdering his seven-year-old niece has launched an appeal to the UK’s highest court over the right of prisoners to vote.

Peter Chester, who is in his 50s, has launched a challenge at the Supreme Court after three Court of Appeal judges dismissed his case in December 2010.

Peter Chester

Peter Chester

He has also previously appealed to the High Court in 2009.

He is currently serving life for raping and strangling Donna Marie Gillbanks at her home in Mereside, Blackpool in 1977.

He denied the crime throughout his 1978 trial, but was convicted and jailed.

The appeal is asking the Supreme Court to decide whether European Union law gives convicted prisoners the right to vote in municipal or European Parliamentary elections.

In Chester’s case, the issue is whether the court should make a declaration that the statutory ban on him from voting is “incompatible” with his human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and with EU law.

In a written argument put before the court at a hearing yesterday, Hugh Southey QC, representing Chester, said his case “concerns the right of convicted prisoners, and in particular, indeterminate sentence prisoners whose minimum terms have expired, to vote in Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections.”

Mr Southey said: “The right to vote is a right of prime importance in the ECHR and a right essential to the principle of democracy on which the European Union is founded.”

Seven Supreme Court justices are considering the challenge.

The Government is expected to tackle the issue in coming months, but Prime Minister David Cameron has already vowed inmates would not get the vote under his administration, saying the idea of giving prisoners the vote makes him “sick”.

(Proceeding)

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