‘The justice system is a joke’ – furor over conviction of killer who forced grandmother to jump to death

Readers have condemned a killer’s ‘joke’ after he was told he could only serve 14 years for burning down a great-grandmother’s house, forcing her to jump 20ft up when he died. Paranoid schizophrenic Mark O’Brien poured petrol into 83-year-old Peggy Wright’s mailbox after he mistakenly believed he had been labeled a paedophile.

Ms Wright and her son Andrew France, 53, were forced to jump from an upstairs window of their home in Lapworth Grove, Balsall Heath, after waking to find the fire last April. Ms Wright died a few hours later with her son seriously injured.

Yesterday, Wednesday April 14, O’Brien was jailed for life but with a minimum sentence of just 14 years. He is being held in a secure mental institution and will be transferred to prison when he is deemed well enough.

READ MORE: Stranger who killed Birmingham’s ‘real Peggy Mitchell’ jailed for life

Brummies took to BirminghamLive’s Facebook page to air his views, saying the minimum sentence was not enough and he should be jailed for much longer.

Paul Gamble said: ‘Should never get out of jail.’ Margaret Langford posted: “Never let him out of jail.”

Ronnie Powers said, “What kind of society produces such humane behavior against our elderly?” Tina Moppett said, “14 years old!!! Justice is a joke! He should never come out.”

Yvonne Cohen posted: “Should be given a much longer sentence. Could be freed after 7 years.” Noel Gibbons said: “He should never be released.”

Calvin William thought O’Brien needed help and said: “He’s definitely a troubled person who needs help, sad that life has to be lost in the mix. Paranoid schizophrenic, he’s a serious problem, he needs help, so help him so it doesn’t happen again.”

Peggy Wright died of a fall after her house burned down

Birmingham Crown Court previously heard O’Brien tell police who arrested him in Birmingham city center that he ‘got the wrong house’, while a witness said O’Brien s was shouted at at his home nearby.

The retiree – affectionately known as ‘Her Street Peggy Mitchell’ in reference to the former EastEnders matriarch – died in hospital hours later. O’Brien, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility, arson with intent to endanger life and grievous bodily harm on January 21.

In a tribute, Ms Wright’s family said: ‘Peggy was a much loved and respected member of her community for many years.

“Mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother, she was devoted to her family but always had time to show compassion and understanding to others.

“His loss to the sudden and devastating events has left his loved ones and many friends beyond grief, in a state of confusion and has created a void in his family that can never be filled.

“The family would like to express their sincere thanks and gratitude for the many well wishes and messages of support, but respectfully request some privacy at this sad and most difficult time.”

West Midlands Police Chief Inspector Wes Martin said: ‘This is a tragic case and O’Brien’s actions have destroyed a completely innocent family. Peggy was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, who had lived in this area for much of her life and was known and beloved by all who knew her.

“Her son, who was seriously injured and is still recovering from his injuries, and her daughter must come to terms with the loss of their mother in such harrowing circumstances. My thoughts go out to the whole family. I hope that sentence and the fact that O’Brien will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life brings some comfort to Peggy’s family.

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