Hackney father's distress at killer's bid to move to an open prison
PUBLISHED: 10:43 04 June 2013 | UPDATED: 10:49 04 June 2013
The family of a murdered teenager have expressed anger that his killer could be moved to open prison without them having a say at a parole hearing.
Robert Levy was 16 when he was stabbed multiple times after he rushed to the aid of a boy he did not know who was being threatened with a knife in September 2004 in Hackney Grove, Hackney.
The teenager, who was studying for his A-levels, sustained fatal injuries and died before he reached hospital.
His killer – who was aged 15 at the time of the attack and cannot be named for legal reasons – received a life sentence for murder with a minimum term of nine years.
However, Robert’s family say they have just been told that his killer, who is up for parole in September, has applied to be sent to open prison under the Guittard judgement. The family fear the absence of a hearing would deprive them of the chance to provide victim impact statements.
Under Guittard, the secretary of state can decide to move life sentence prisoners from closed to open conditions if they meet all the criteria required.
Robert’s father Ian Levy said: “The victim liaison service rang me because we knew he was up for a parole hearing sometime soon and they told me he’s applied under some weird law to bypass the parole system to go straight to an open prison.
“Apparently people on life sentences can apply under this rule. It makes a mockery of the parole system.
The murderer, who was sentenced in March 2005, is eligible for parole in September 2013.
Mr Levy recalled the original sentencing, saying: “During the summing up, the judge was said he was a model prisoner on remand. But he was isolated.
“With no parole, there’s no test to find out if he has reformed.
“We are bystanders. The government is running rough-shod over victims altogether. I don’t think we are considered or consulted in these cases.
“I don’t want to say I’ve lost faith but it’s heading that way. Too much is weighted in favour of the perpetrator of a crime and not enough for the victim. It’s just lip service.”
Mr Levy added that he was concerned that the murderer might be allowed out on weekends and come back to the local area.
Robert Levy, a former pupil of Cardinal Pole Catholic School in Morning Lane, Homerton, was studying A-Levels at Wanstead Sixth Form School in Wanstead.
His father added: “It’s very hard. Birthdays are also hard. We try to get on as best we can. But when something like this comes up, it brings it back up again.”
Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier admitted she was “angry on the family’s behalf”, saying: “My concern about it is that with the Parole Board the family have a chance to make a victim impact statement. With this route the prisoner can circumvent the whole Parole Board hearing and the victim’s voice is completely wiped out of the process.
“The Levy family have been planning for the chance to speak about the impact on their family for years and they have been denied that opportunity.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The release of all lifers who have served their minimum terms of imprisonment is solely a matter for the independent Parole Board.
“Parole Board panels cannot direct the release of such prisoners until the panel is satisfied that any risk they present may be safely managed in the community.”