Killer must serve 20 years behind bars

A MOTHER has spoken of her relief after campaigning successfully to keep her daughter's “bestial” killer behind bars for a minimum 20-year term.Ida Petherick's only daughter, Ann, was brutally murdered by Donald Mackay who hid her body in black bin bags.

A MOTHER has spoken of her relief after campaigning successfully to keep her daughter's “bestial” killer behind bars for a minimum 20-year term.

Ida Petherick's only daughter, Ann, was brutally murdered by Donald Mackay who hid her body in black bin bags.

Sadistic Mackay had already been jailed for manslaughter when he murdered Miss Petherick in 1989.

Tiptree widow Mrs Petherick never discovered exactly how her 26-year-old daughter died, but when Mackay was jailed Judge Mr Justice Kennedy recommended the university graduate serve at least 30 years.


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Despite the judge's suggested minimum term at sentencing, the Government later ruled the tariff should be set at just 20 years.

Mrs Petherick then discovered last year that Mackay, 41 at the time, was also applying for his minimum sentence to be reviewed, hoping it would be cut further.

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She has since campaigned against such a move, and now the High Court of Justice has ruled Mackay will not be released any earlier than 2009 - and suggested the unemployed engineer would have been given a longer sentence under modern guidelines.

Mr Justice Openshaw branded the killing as a “most terrible murder” and also acknowledged the “dark shadow” it cast over Mrs Petherick's life.

His ruling stated: “The defendant still maintains his innocence; he has shown no remorse. I have seen the reports on the defendant's progress in prison.

“He has achieved considerable academic success. However, there is nothing in this case which is so exceptional as to justify a reduction in the minimum term otherwise appropriate. In short, I see no mitigating features whatsoever.

“The sentence is - and remains - a sentence of imprisonment for life. The defendant may not be even considered for release until he has served at least 20 years.

“That is not to say he will be released; indeed he will be detained unless and until the Parole Board is satisfied that he non longer presents a risk to the public.”

Mrs Petherick, 67, was at the High Court to hear the ruling and speaking afterwards she said she was relieved at the ruling, but angry that she had been forced to relive the nightmare of 20 years ago.

She said: “I am pleased he will do his 20 years and will not be considered for early release.

“It is some comfort, though of course it is not as long as the trial judge told the court that day at sentencing.

“I feel I just can't do any more and that my fight has come to an end. Where else can I take it? The Home Secretary has looked at it.”

She said she still felt anger and bitterness towards Mackay.

“He still says he did not do it. I would like to see the man and ask him exactly what he did to my daughter because, as it stands, I will never know how she died,” she said.

She said her husband, Christopher, had gone to his grave thinking Mackay would never be free again and she said she hoped Mackay would never be able to fulfil the criteria to get parole.

Ann Petherick's decomposing body was only discovered at Mackay's London home after he attacked a prostitute he had taken to his flat.

After he sexually and physically abused her for several hours he then threatened to kill her before the traumatised woman managed to escape and raise the alarm.

When officers went to interview Mackay they found Miss Petherick's body and although the cause of death could not be determined, it was believed she may have been subjected to the same kind of sexual and sadistic indignities as the prostitute.

At his trial at the Old Bailey, it emerged Mackay had been jailed for five years in 1984 for stabbing a homeless man to death with a sword.

The Home Office will not discuss individual prisoners but in a letter seen by the EADT it stated the 30- year recommendation made in open court reflected the judge's assessment of “future risk and therefore could not be regarded as a tariff recommendation”.

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