A sentence of life imprisonment is mandatory where an offender commits the crime of murder and at the time of doing so is aged 21 years or over.1 At the same time as imposing such a penalty the sentencing judge has a discretionary power to make a recommendation to the Home Secretary that the offender should serve a minimum period of time in custody before being released.2 Life imprisonment is also the maximum sentence which may be imposed for a number of other serious offences such as manslaughter, robbery, rape, aggravated burglary and arson.
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