Friday, 8 Dec 2023

Rapist who murdered schoolgirl could be back on UK streets by Christmas

A child killer and rapist who threw his nine-year-old victim in a river is to be back on UK streets by Christmas after he was granted parole.

The parents of Kayleigh Ward have warned parents to “beware” after their daughter was raped by John O’Shaughnessy on the banks of the River Dee in Chester before he then strangled her with his belt in December 1996.

It took two months for her body to be found following her murder.

At Mold Crown Court, North Wales, in December 1997 O’Shaughnessy, 31 at the time, admitted to raping and killing Kayleigh and he was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

Now the Parole Board has confirmed it has ordered his release from prison following a parole hearing, despite the victim’s family saying they understood he would not be eligable for release before 2027.

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Taking to Facebook to issue a statement warning parents O’Shaughnessy is to be released, Kayleigh’s family said: “The justice system is wrong. Life should mean life. We have three weeks in which to appeal this decision.

“This monster knew what he was doing. I’m disturbed by the thought of him gaining his freedom. He’s going to be out there. To all parents please be aware.

“We the family of Kayleigh are serving the life sentence. She will stay in our hearts and thoughts forever.”

Kayleigh and her family met O’Shaughnessy when he was living in the same homeless shelter in Chester.

When asked by the court why he killed Kayleigh after raping her, he replied: “Because she was bound to have told people what I had done. It was the easiest way out of it.”

Sentencing O’Shaughnessy, Mr Justice Maurice Kay said: “It is difficult to imagine anything more depraved, cruel and cowardly than that.”

A spokesman for the Parole Board said: “We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of John O’Shaughnessy following an oral hearing. Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

“A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.

“Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead up to an oral hearing. Evidence from witnesses such as probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements may be given at the hearing.

“It is standard for the prisoner and witnesses to be questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more. Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”

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