Howard considers moving Hindley to open prison

 

THE British Home Secretary, Mr Michael Howard, confirmed yesterday that he is considering transferring the Moors murderer, Myra Hindley, to an open prison following a recommendation by the Parole Board.

However, Mr Howard stressed that such a move would not result in an early release for Hindley and that he could fully understand the angry reactions from the families of her victims.

Mr Howard, who was on a visit to Birmingham, admitted that he had not yet seen the recommendations from the Parole Board, but said: "I understand that it is the case that they are recommending such a move. That recommendation will come to me in due course and I will have to make a decision.

"There is no time scale for that but I will be operating the mechanism to look at the situation and the decision will be mine. The need to maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system is one that I have got to take into account," he said.

Mr Howard added: "I can fully understand the reaction of the victim's families in this case but I must look at this case as I would any individual prisoner," he said.

Answering questions about a possible public outcry, Mr Howard said: "The need to maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system is one that I have got to take into account. I can fully understand the reaction of the victim's families in this case but I must look at this case as I would any individual prisoner."

Mrs Anne West, the mother of Lesley Ann Downey whose last moments were taped by Hindley and her lover Ian Brady, said she was appalled by the open prison suggestion.

"She was getting kicks out of what she was doing to my Lesley. I'm serving the sentence and I will never get parole, never get parole until I'm with Lesley. "Until I die and I'm with Lesley I will never ever get parole," Mrs West said.

Last year, Mr Howard informed Hindley (54), who was jailed in 1966 for the murder of four children, that she would never be released from prison. Brady, who was also jailed for life, has said he does not wish to be considered for parole.

Prisoners are normally transferred to an open jail before release to aid their rehabilitation into society. They are allowed to work in the community and earn the right to monthly home visits. Prison sources agreed that it is highly unlikely that Mr Howard would allow the transfer, particularly as he has rejected the Parole Board's recommendations in the past.

Mr Harry Fletcher, the spokesman for the National Association of Probation Officers, was also sceptical over the possibility that Hindley would be moved to an open jail. "The Home Secretary is not going to put one of the most hated prisoners in penal history into a situation where she is going out into the community doing good works and shopping," he said.

But, according to one of Hindley's supporters, she would not welcome the transfer because of her concern over her personal safety and press intrusion.