'Catastrophic failures' in early release of killer

Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick Image copyright HM Inspectorate of Prisons
Image caption Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said the release of McLoughlin was "indefensible"

Freeing a double killer from an open prison on day release, allowing him to murder a Good Samaritan, has been branded a "catastrophic failure".

Ian McLoughlin stabbed Graham Buck, 66, to death in Hertfordshire in July 2013.

A report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said his release from HMP Spring Hill in Buckinghamshire was "indefensible".

Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said the system had become "far too lax" and the rules were tightened last year.

'Major changes'

McLoughlin was serving a 25-year term for killing two men.

After being released from Spring Hill, he travelled to the home of Francis Cory-Wright in Little Gaddesden and carried out a robbery.

Mr Cory-Wright's neighbour, Mr Buck, heard screams but when he went to investigate, was dragged inside by McLoughlin, who slashed his throat.

The report - commissioned by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling - also draws on information about the early release of two other inmates from open prisons in 2013 who went on to commit serious offences.

Al-Foday Fofanah robbed a bank in Borough High Street, south London, while on day release from HMP Ford. A third man is alleged to have committed a further serious offence and is currently awaiting trial.

"These three men should not have been given temporary release," said Mr Hardwick. "The risks they posed were not accurately assessed or managed. The system failed the public it was supposed to protect with awful individual consequences."

Mr Hardwick said there was a general presumption in favour of granting day release.

Ministry of Justice figures show the number of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences given day release had risen from 38,000 in 2008 to 90,000 in 2012.

But they suggest that fewer than 1% of cases where prisoners are given day release are recorded as failures.

Mr Selous said: "Last year we introduced major changes to the policy for allowing prisoners out on temporary licence, tightening the rules...

"Under this government absconds have fallen to historically low levels and, since we introduced the new policy, temporary release failures have also significantly decreased."

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