'It's going to be scary out there' – Mayor's fears as triple child killer set to be released from Suffolk prison
PUBLISHED: 08:06 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:15 07 December 2018
A man who killed three small children and impaled their bodies on railings more than 40 years ago has been cleared for release from a Suffolk prison – prompting fear in the local community.
Concerns were raised after it emerged 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.
A Parole Board panel has now directed his release following an oral hearing – as he is believed to have changed “considerably”.
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.”
Mr Mortimer said that many members of the community, especially those with children, may be worried about having a “potential monster” living in the area.
“You don’t know who you are walking past,” he said. “They could have all sorts going on in their head.
“In the same vein of thought you can have anyone jump off the train station at Woodbridge or Melton and you don’t know who they are.
“Because this part of the world is generally so safe, knowing that we have got a potential monster is a bit of a worry. It’ll be nice to know where he is living.”
He described McGreavy’s crimes as something out of a “true horror film,” and argued that questions may be raised about his time spent in an open prison – referencing the ongoing debate about nearby Hollesley Bay housing sex offenders.
“Is that prison really man enough for that job?” he asked. “That has caused a big fury locally in Hollesley.”
A Parole Board document said McGreavy had “developed self-control”, as well as a “considerable understanding of the problems that he has had and what caused them”.
It continued: “The psychologist identified a number of factors which make it less likely that Mr McGreavy will reoffend in future.
“These included his improved self-control and the fact that Mr McGreavy has learnt to remain calm in stressful situations.
“He has also shown himself to be compliant and co-operative with authority, which suggests that he will comply with licence conditions.
“A network of supportive friends in the community was also identified as a protective factor.”
Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, was also contacted for comment – but said she did not have enough information about the case to give an informed response.
The children’s mother Elsie Urry, who has also been known as Dorothy, told a national newspaper: “What this animal did to my children was every bit as bad as what the Moors Murderers did.
“But Ian Brady and Myra Hindley never left prison before they died so why the hell should he?
“He put my babies on spikes for God’s sake - he mutilated them and they died in agony.
“I wanted him dead and to suffer like they had but was reassured after his trial that his crime was so terrible he would never walk free again.
“But despite begging them to keep him locked up, I have now finally been betrayed.”
The Parole Board said: “We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of David McGreavy following an oral hearing.
“Parole Board decisions are solely focused on whether a prisoner would represent a significant risk to the public after release.
“The panel will have carefully looked at a whole range of evidence, including details of the original evidence and any evidence of behaviour change.
“We do that with great care and public safety is our number one priority.”
Commenting on the decision, a probation service spokesman said: “The independent Parole Board decides whether life-sentenced prisoners should be released.
“On release, such offenders are on licence for life and are subject to strict conditions and controls, which may include exclusion zones and living in supervised accommodation.
“If they fail to comply, they face being recalled to prison.”