A married man who choked his lover to death during sex and was jailed for less than five years could have his sentence extended after an intervention by the Attorney General.
Sam Pybus, 32, was jailed earlier this month for four years and eight months for the manslaughter of Sophie Moss, a vulnerable 33-year-old mother of two.
The Attorney General referred the jail term to the Court of Appeal for being ‘unduly lenient’.
Teesside Crown Court heard how Pybus had drunk 24 bottles of lager before the sex romp at her flat in Darlington in February.
A spokesman from the Attorney General’s Office said: ‘I can confirm that the Attorney General has referred Sam Pybus’s sentence to the Court of Appeal as she agrees that it appears unduly lenient.
‘It is now for the court to decide whether to increase the sentence.’
Judge Paul Watson QC jailed Pybus for four years and eight months, having reduced the sentence from seven years after giving credit for his early guilty plea to manslaughter.
Pybus woke up and found Ms Moss naked and unresponsive but did not dial 999, waiting in his car for 15 minutes before driving to a police station to raise the alarm, the court heard.
A post-mortem examination revealed he had applied enough pressure to her neck for long enough to kill. There was no evidence of any other injuries or violence.
The Crown Prosecution Service said there was not sufficient evidence to support a charge of murder as there was nothing to suggest he intended to kill her or cause serious harm.
Married Pybus told police he and Ms Moss had been in a casual relationship for three years, and that she encouraged him to strangle her during consensual sex.
The court heard Ms Moss’s long-term partner, not named in court, said likewise.
The referral comes after Labour’s Harriet Harman, who chairs Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, wrote to the Attorney General to complain about the ‘unduly lenient’ sentence.
Campaign group We Can’t Consent To This previously told MailOnline: ‘It seems that strangling a woman to death is still viewed in law as an unfortunate accident, rather than terrible serious violence. This sends a dreadful message to women – four years eight months is an outrageous sentence for killing a woman.
‘This year strangulation was made a specific offence in recognition of the seriousness of this violence, and the Government were clear, that claims of rough sex must not be used by perpetrators to evade justice.
‘Justice minister Alex Chalk said of the government’s law change this April: “Perpetrators of these crimes should be under no illusions – their actions will never be justifiable in any way, and they will be pursued rigorously through the courts to seek justice for victims and their families”.’
‘We don’t think this is how the law should work – and look to the government now to see what they intend to do.’