'Is he likely to settle in Suffolk? - Parole Board responds to key questions after triple child killer cleared for release
PUBLISHED: 07:30 16 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:19 16 December 2018
The independent body responsible for triple murderer David McGreavy's release has insisted it will never free dangerous criminals until it is "convinced" it is safe to do so.
The Parole Board has responded to a number of key questions posed by our team after it emerged a man who killed three small children and impaled their bodies on railings had been cleared for release from a Suffolk prison.
There was an outpouring of fury across the county following the news that David McGreavy, now 67, could settle in Suffolk after forming “a network of supportive friends in the community” during his time at Warren Hill Prison, near Woodbridge.
McGreavy was sentenced to life in 1973 for the horrific killings of Paul Ralph, four, and his sisters Dawn, two, and nine-month-old Samantha in their Worcester home.
He claimed he murdered the siblings because one of them would not stop crying. Paul had been strangled, Dawn was found with her throat cut, and Samantha died from a compound fracture to the skull.
McGreavy, a family friend and lodger who was 21 at the time, then impaled their bodies on spiked garden railings.
Fears were raised after it emerged a Parole Board panel had directed his release following an oral hearing – as he is believed to have changed “considerably”.
What does the Parole Board have to say?
The Board has since responded to the following key questions, reflecting serious concerns expressed by our readers:
• How can the Board justify releasing a triple child killer into the community, even after decades behind bars?
• Is it truly possible for a person who has murdered multiple children to change so considerably that they are fit for public life?
• Can the Parole Board say for certain that McGreavy does not pose a risk to the general public?
• Since McGreavy has made “a network of supportive friends in the community”, is he likely to settle in Suffolk?
• What safety measures will be in place to ensure McGreavy cannot commit more horrendous crimes in future?
• How does the Board respond to the Elsie Urry’s claim that she has been “betrayed” by the system? Is it fair to say McGreavy’s release is an insult to his victims and their family?
• The Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley never left prison, so why should McGreavy?
• McGreavy applied for release back in 2016, but had his request denied. What has changed in the past two years?
In response, the Board insisted that, while it cannot comment on individual cases, it will not release dangerous people into the community until it is safe to do so.
It added that “the onus is on the offender to demonstrate they are safe for release” and criminals will be recalled to prison if they breach the “strict set of licence conditions” imposed on them as soon as they step foot into the community.
A spokesman said: “A Parole Board decision is focused on whether a prisoner would represent a significant risk to the public after release and whether their risk can be safely managed by the National Probation Service in the community.
“The decision on risk is based on the detailed evidence in the dossier and evidence provided at the oral hearing. The onus is on the offender to demonstrate they are safe for release, and that is hard to do. We won’t release dangerous people until we are convinced it is safe to do so.
“A release decision will include a strict set of licence conditions that an offender will need to follow to ensure they can be safely managed in the community. An offender can be recalled to prison at any time should their probation officer report that these conditions have been breached.
“The Parole Board has the power to direct a prisoner’s release, however it is for Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) to organise the logistics of the physical release of a prisoner.
“Please note that we cannot comment on the specifics of individual cases.”
Responding to the point about the Moors Murderers’ situation, the spokesman said: “All prisoners who have served the minimum term (the tariff set by the court) of an indeterminate or life sentence have the legal right to a parole hearing. If they are judged to be ineligible for release at their first review, they will have a parole review every two years.
“Other offenders who receive whole life tariffs (e.g. the Moors Murderers) received a whole life tariff which means they would never be eligible for parole.”
What does the local MP have to say?
The following five questions were also posed to Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal:
• Will you contest McGreavy’s release from a prison in your constituency?
• Do you understand and appreciate the fears of your constituents, including Woodbridge mayor David Mortimer?
• Can you reassure the residents of Suffolk Coastal that McGreavy poses no risk to their safety?
• Does it concern you that McGreavy has “a network of supportive friends in the community,” and could settle in Suffolk?
• Is it right that somebody who has taken the lives of three small children should ever walk free?
However Dr Coffey once again refused to comment, citing a lack of available information about the case.
“The same issue still stands that I don’t have the Parole Board report so cannot give a reply on attributed comments on friends,” she said.
Dr Coffey added that she had been in touch with the MP for Worcester, Robin Walker, who has asked the Lord Chancellor to change the Parole Board decision. However she would not clarify if she backed Mr Walker’s appeal.
A number of readers expressed their horror at the news on social media, with many calling for the Parole Board decision to be overturned.
Linda Sighe said: “This is so wrong. He should never be allowed to walk free. This was not the action of someone who was stressed over a crying child. Parole boards do your job for the community NOT the criminal,” while Nicola Owen added: “I don’t care if he’s the new Santa Claus. He took away three children’s lives. They never got to live, why should he get freedom ever?”
Joanna England also strongly opposed the decision, writing: “Utter madness. At 67 he’s more than capable of striking again. Any person who can do the things he did to three totally helpless little children deserves the death penalty or life inside. I feel sorry for the people of Woodbridge that they will be forced to endure his presence.”
David Mortimer, mayor of Woodbridge, said “it is going to be a little bit scary out there”, adding that, in his opinion, McGreavy should have been sentenced to death.
“You are going to have some people locally who are going to be very unhappy about him being in the community,” he said.
“Taking the lives of children...if you have taken their lives you have to forfeit yours. The fact that he killed all three of them – that is well beyond any sort of rational thought. I’d have chucked away the key.”