Nearly 40,000 sign petition calling for tougher sentence for West End killer
Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for a tougher sentence for a man who punched and killed a banker in Soho.
Paul Mason, 52, was walking home from dinner with a friend at The Ivy when he was set upon by a complete stranger, 34-year-old Steven Allan, who was under the mistaken impression his friend’s phone had been stolen.
Allan knocked Mr Mason to the ground and continued to strike him before delivering a final blow that left him unconscious on the pavement. Mr Mason died around six months later from brain injuries sustained in the attack.
Allan, who admitted manslaughter, was cleared of murder in the attack in West Street, Soho, and was sentenced last month to three years and nine months in prison - meaning he will likely serve just over a year behind bars.
Mr Mason’s sister Rachel Mason described the sentence as “sickening” as she told Sky News on Monday, May 8, that her brother was a “kind, gentle, decent man who had never been involved in any kind of violence”.
She said: “How can someone rehabilitate in a year? They can’t. We all know that prisons are overstretched and resources are stretched.
“He’s not going to get any kind of support in prison in a year. And then he’ll be out in the community. It’s sickening.”
In a petition, Mr Mason’s sister Rachel Mason described the sentence as an “insult” and called for it to be revised.
“This sentence is an insult to Paul, to us his family and to the wider UK society,” she said.
She added: “He will be released back into our community too soon. Steven Allan’s sentence must be reviewed and extended.”
Nearly 40,000 people have backed Ms Mason’s plea to have sentencing guidelines overhauled in the wake of the tragic killing.
Allan, a site manager on a construction project in Hyde Park, had spent the evening of December 15, 2020, drinking with a friend, the Old Bailey heard.
He was standing in West Street when he became consumed by the incorrect idea that his friend, who had gone to another establishment, had been robbed.
Mr Mason, a highly-respected banking executive who worked for the Qatar National Bank, walked past at the exact time Allan tried to call his friend, leading him to the false impression that Mr Mason had stolen the phone.
Passing sentence last month, Judge Michael Topolski KC called it a “horror story” and took into account his guilty plea for manslaughter, mental health difficulties, and his stated remorse at the consequences of his actions.
“I’m well aware the sentence I’ve just passed will seem like nothing to (Mr Mason’s) family”, said the judge.
“The circumstances that to the defendant causing the death of a perfectly respectable and wholly innocent stranger who happened to be passing by are as extraordinary as they are tragic.”
Allan, from Hook in Hampshire, spent more than two years on a curfew while awaiting two criminal trials, with more than 400 days counting towards his prison sentence.
He will be eligible for release at the halfway point of his three-years-and-nine-month sentence.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said: “We have received a request for this sentence to be considered under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.
“The Law Officers have 28 days from sentencing to consider the case and make a decision.”
A Sentencing Council spokesperson told news outlets that it could not comment on individual cases.