MP supports bid to stop killer's release

A CAMPAIGNING mother who fears she could see her daughter's killer walk free from prison 10 years earlier expected has enlisted the support of her MP. Ida Petherick's daughter, Ann, was murdered by Donald Mackay and the 27-year-old's body was hidden for six weeks in bin bags.

A CAMPAIGNING mother who fears she could see her daughter's killer walk free from prison 10 years earlier expected has enlisted the support of her MP.

Ida Petherick's daughter, Ann, was murdered by Donald Mackay and the 27-year-old's body was hidden for six weeks in bin bags.

Mackay was jailed for 40 years at the Old Bailey in 1989 and Judge Mr Justice Kennedy branded the killer “bestial” and recommended he serve at least 30 years for the murder.

But Mrs Petherick, from Tiptree, was horrified to hear that the Probation Service will be reviewing Mackay's case and could release the killer in three years' time.


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It has now emerged that despite the judge's recommended sentence, Government officials took a decision to set the tariff at 20 years.

Yesterday Mrs Petherick met Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for North Essex, who has pledged his support.

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He said: “If a judge is sentencing, what does it mean if it is being changed behind closed doors afterwards?

“If victims, or in this case the bereaved parents, believe for years the criminal has been sentenced for 30 years, only to be told later on it has changed there is a serious problem.

“Is it any wonder people are losing faith in the criminal justice system?”

Mrs Petherick said: “It is not for my sake, the political system needs changing if people who have not heard all the evidence in a case are making decisions like this behind closed doors.”

The 67-year-old widow has described how the news of Mackay's possible release came “like a bolt out of the blue”.

Mrs Petherick said she was fighting against Mackay's early release in honour of her daughter and husband.

Her daughter's murder only came to the attention of police when Mackay attacked a prostitute who managed to escape and alert police to the danger.

When officers were at Mackay's London flat interviewing him for the brutal assault they found Miss Petherick's body.

After his conviction it emerged the unemployed engineer had killed before, serving time for the manslaughter of a homeless man he stabbed with a sword.

The Home Office will not discuss the cases of individual prisoners but in a letter seen by the EADT, the Home Office revealed the Lord Chief Justice only recommended 16 years' minimum tariff, which the Government then set to 20 years.

It stated: “It is clear from the report that 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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