'Why was killer freed on day release?'

AN MP questioned last night why a killer with an appalling record of brutality was allowed to walk the streets of Suffolk on day release from prison. David Lant, who once vowed to kill again after taking part in...

AN MP questioned last night why a killer with an appalling record of brutality was allowed to walk the streets of Suffolk on day release from prison.

David Lant, who once vowed to kill again after taking part in the sickening torture and murder of a fellow prisoner, was cleared yesterday of committing sexual offences against a 16-year-old girl in a caravan park in Thurston.

But last night, as details of his sickening catalogue of past crimes emerged, a Suffolk MP demanded to know why Lant was allowed out into the community from Hollesley Bay Prison.

The most horrific of his offences, committed in 1977, saw Lant and another prisoner subject paedophile David Francis to nine hours of torture after barricading themselves into a bootroom at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire.


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Following the shocking siege, during which the 26-year-old's body was partly skinned, the pair held the battered corpse aloft to show helpless prison guards.

According to one guard at the top security hospital, Mr Francis was found with his “head cracked open like a boiled egg”, with a spoon hanging out of it and part of his brain missing.

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A former nurse at the hospital for the criminally insane added: “Staff had to bear the screams of Francis as he was tortured for hours. They abused his body to the nth degree.”

After pleading guilty to the chilling crime and being given a life sentence, Lant told the court he would kill again if he was not moved to a different prison.

But had these new allegations against him not emerged, the 61-year-old could have been released in May last year, when he would have been eligible for parole. He has since served another year in custody at a closed prison.

Last night John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, demanded to know why Lant, who had been a prisoner in Suffolk since 2002, had been allowed on day release, a privilege that allowed him to work at a Salvation Army hostel in Ipswich.

He said: “Here is someone who is serving a life sentence for a particularly gruesome murder. I would hope the authorities will review the way they made their decision and ask again if this is a suitable person to be allowed in the community.

“There must be serious questions about someone who has such a history, irrespective of the case in which he is not guilty.

“It must be of concern to my constituents, particularly those who live near the prison.”

A Home Office spokesman said a decision will be made by the parole board about whether Lant has breached his licence.

He said: “All prisoners are rigorously risk-assessed before release on temporary licence and no prisoner is released if there are concerns for public safety.

“In the vast majority of cases, prisoners treat this opportunity properly in accordance with the position of trust they have been given.

“Our absolute priority is public protection and rehabilitating offenders is a vital part of that. There have been open prisons since 1936. They are the most effective way of ensuring prisoners are tested in the community before they are freed.

“Releasing prisoners direct from a closed prison without the resulting benefits of an open estate would undoubtedly lead to higher levels of post release re-offending.”

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