Julian Sanders' family 'devastated' by killer John Latus's move

Julian Sanders
Image caption Julian Sanders' body was found in a park near Birmingham

A double killer who decapitated one of his victims in a park has been moved out of a secure psychiatric unit.

The family of the beheaded man is calling for a law change over the development in John Latus's case, saying it should have been consulted.

Latus received a life sentence after murdering Shropshire man Julian Sanders, 21 in Cofton Park, near Birmingham, in May 2000.

The government said the move followed a "comprehensive risk assessment".

Latus had been held at Ashworth high security mental health hospital but has been sent to a facility of medium security, the Ministry of Justice confirmed.

But Mr Sanders's parents said this amounted to a safety risk and have argued that relatives of those killed by psychiatric patients should have a say in when decisions like this are taken.

They said last week they were notified by their victim support officer the move was being considered, and contacted both the Ministry of Justice and Ashworth, calling for Latus to remain there.

But on Monday they were told he had already been moved.

Image caption John Latus was jailed for life in 2003

Latus battered and beheaded trainee welder Mr Sanders, before a year later killing his friend Colin Foulkes as he slept at the house they shared in Shrewsbury.

The killer dumped Mr Foulkes' body in a nearby copse, before driving to Corwen in North Wales and attacking his mother, leaving her with a fractured skull.

In 2002, he admitted Mr Foulkes' manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was convicted of the attempted murder of his mother.

A year later, he was convicted of Mr Sanders' murder and given life sentences for the other two offences.

In a High Court hearing in 2007, Mr Justice Gibbs said there was a likelihood Latus was "under the influence of mental illness or of some personality disorder at the time" but said it gave minimal mitigation, adding he "is likely to represent a serious danger for the indefinite future".

Image copyright Jim Dyson/ Getty Images
Image caption John Latus had been held at Ashworth high security mental health hospital

Mr Sanders' father, Russell Sanders Royle, and his wife Avril, said they were fearful for public safety after learning of Latus's move.

They said families of victims were not involved in mental health tribunals, in the same way they were in parole board hearings, and have called for that to be changed.

"We are really concerned, we are also very concerned for ourselves that he is going to come here and attack us," Mrs Sanders Royle said.

"Would you like to live in the same street as this man? Would your children and grandchildren like to live in the same street as this man? He is not safe."

Image caption Avril Sanders Royle said she was "fearful" after John Latus was moved

They said the decision came a year after they were last notified of the possibility Latus could be moved.

Mr Sanders Royle added: "It has been 19 years and it doesn't end.

"The law is wrong, they have downgraded John Latus to a less secure mental home and it shouldn't happen.

"They wouldn't be making those decisions if they were in the same boat as us.

"I want the country to get united behind us, victims of these serious crimes, and put an end to it."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Restricted patients in medium secure hospitals are permitted community leave only after a comprehensive risk assessment.

"They will be not be discharged until it is determined that they no longer need to be detained in a psychiatric hospital and so may be treated in the community."

Image caption Russell Sanders Royle has called for families to be involved in mental health tribunals

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites