Two men who admitted helping a pair of killers who evaded police and fled the country have been given increased sentences by judges at the Court of Appeal.
Kane Hull and Liam Porter went on the run for 10 days, including travelling to Ireland, before being arrested over the murder of Ryan Kirkpatrick who was stabbed to death during a night out in Carlisle in September 2021.
The pair – both later handed life sentences – were supported in their bid to escape justice by Ross Neville, 32, and Michael Celmins, 33, who helped provide transport, accommodation and a stolen car.
Neville, who admitted two charges of assisting an offender, was handed a 12-month community order at Carlisle Crown Court in December, while Celmins, who pleaded guilty to one like offence, received a 12 month prison term.
But on Tuesday, senior judges ruled that Neville should receive a 22 month total prison sentence and Celmins’ jail term should increase to 24 months after both their cases were referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.
Lady Justice Thirlwall, sitting with Mr Justice Picken and Judge Robert Altham, rejected a bid to increase the 19-month sentence of Olivia Memmory, 23, who previously admitted one charge of assisting Hull and Porter by booking accommodation for the pair in the UK using false names.
At a hearing in London, Bill Emlyn Jones KC, for the AGO, argued each of sentences for Neville, Celmins and Memmory “fails to reflect the seriousness of the offending”.
A written reference from the AGO said Mr Kirkpatrick was victim of a “brutal and public murder” amid a history of hostility between the 24-year-old and Hull and Porter.
Mr Kirkpatrick was out with friends celebrating a family christening on the evening of September 18, 2021, when he was repeatedly knifed by Hull, who acted with the help and encouragement of Porter.
On the night of the murder, Neville, of Canonbie, Dumfries and Galloway, drove the two killers to Scotland where they stayed at his home, before he took Hull to pick up an Audi car at an industrial estate the next day.
On September 21, Celmins, formerly of Irthington, Carlisle, collected a stolen Skoda car from Manchester and drove to meet the two murder suspects where the vehicle was exchanged for the Audi. The Skoda was later used by Hull and Porter to travel to Ireland.
Memmory – who was in a relationship with Hull – booked accommodation for him and Porter in Cumbria, Scotland and Northern Ireland and travelled to Belfast to join them at a hotel.
Hull and Porter were eventually arrested on September 28 at a “rural retreat” in Ireland’s County Mayo – booked by Memmory – where they were found with a shopping list featuring items “intended to be used to disguise themselves, including wigs, glasses, and hair dye”, the AGO said.
The pair resisted extradition and were not returned to England until March 23 last year.
The AGO said their belated arrest delayed the release of Mr Kirkpatrick’s body by the coroner, meaning his funeral was not held until almost four weeks after his death.
This delay “significantly added to the distress” of the victim’s family, Mr Emlyn Jones told the court.
Hull and Porter, then aged 29 and 33, were convicted of murder after a trial and sentenced in October to life imprisonment with minimum terms of 28 and 26 years respectively.
The AGO said they had received “substantial assistance” from Neville, Celmins and Memmory in their “determined attempt to avoid detection and arrest”.
Jason Pitter KC, for Neville, argued on Tuesday that the judge who sentenced him had taken “exceptional care with the facts of the case” when coming to his conclusions.
He said Neville, who had 18 previous convictions for 42 offences including theft and fraud, was not initially aware that a murder had been committed and the help he gave Hull and Porter lasted “less than 24 hours”.
Rosalind Scott Bell, representing Celmins, said his role was “limited to just one day” and that while “at first blush” his sentence appeared lenient it was not unduly so.
“He is utterly remorseful about his actions on that day,” she said, adding that Celmins, who had 17 previous convictions for 39 offences, had made “very good” progress at HMP Northumberland from where he joined the hearing via video-link.
Rosalind Emsley-Smith, for Memmory, formerly of Cummersdale, Cumbria, referenced her “history of trauma” and said her sentence was not unduly lenient.
Lady Justice Thirlwall said judges could not “identify any flaw” in the handling of the sentence of Memmory, who joined the hearing via video-link from HMP Low Newton.
She said that the seriousness of the offences committed by Neville meant that “an immediate sentence of imprisonment is necessary”, ordering him to report to a police station by 6pm on Tuesday.
The judge also said Celmins sentenced should be increased.
Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson said after Tuesday’s ruling: “Today I wish to express my sympathies to the family of Ryan Kirkpatrick.
“Ross Neville and Michael Celmins shamefully assisted two brutal murderers flee the UK in a cowardly attempt to evade justice.
“It was clear to me that the original sentences given to the pair were not appropriate, so I welcome the decision of the court to hand down sentences which better reflect the crimes that have taken place.”