Shocking figures reveal 129 criminals become double lifers in 10 years

Jailed ‘for life’ but freed to kill again: Shocking new data reveals that 129 criminals have joined the ranks of ‘double-lifers’ in just 10 years

  • Controversy continues over criminals jailed for life who are freed from prison
  • 129 prisoners have been recalled in past decade and given second life jail terms
  • Ministry of Justice data shows 17 criminals given a second life sentence in 2019 
  • A paedophile spending life behind bars for raping a child went on to attack again
  • Dozens of killers, rapists and paedophiles released from prison have been given second life sentences for further offences.

    Over the past decade 129 criminals who were jailed for life have been handed the same sentence again.

    The figures will reignite the row over the role of the Parole Board following controversies over Black Cab rapist John Worboys and child-killer Colin Pitchfork.

    The data, disclosed by the Ministry of Justice under freedom of information laws, shows that 17 criminals were given a second life sentence in 2019.

    One was locked up for murder after having already been given a life sentence for that offence.

    Stephen Unwin, 42, and William McFall, 53, were both jailed for separate murders in the 1990s of pensioners they attacked and burgled. On their release they teamed up and murdered mother-of-two Quyen Hgoc Nguyen, 28. The pair have both been given second life sentences.

    Stephen Unwin, 42, and William McFall, 53, were both jailed for separate murders in the 1990s of pensioners they attacked and burgled. On their release they teamed up and murdered mother-of-two Quyen Hgoc Nguyen, 28. The pair have both been given second life sentences.

    Quyen Hgoc Nguyen, 28, of North Tyneside, was tortured and robbed by Unwin and McFall after their release from prison

    Quyen Hgoc Nguyen, 28, of North Tyneside, was tortured and robbed by Unwin and McFall after their release from prison

    In another case a man convicted of rape and given a life sentence found himself back in court to be given another life sentence for a separate rape attack.

    A paedophile given life behind bars for rape attack on a child was also sentenced to a second life term for a similar sick sex attack on a youngster. 

    Last year there were fewer ‘double-lifers’ – largely because the pandemic led to fewer offenders going through the court system. 

    However among them was a repeat rapist, a cocaine dealer who had previously been jailed for an attempted rape on a girl and an offender jailed for attempted murder who had already been subject to a life sentence for murder.

    It is believed that some of the lifers committed their second offence while still in prison for the first life sentence – by attacking inmates. 

    Others may have been in prison serving a life sentence when evidence came to light about another crime that was committed before they were locked up. 

    But many of these double-lifers will be convicts who have been released from prison back into the community only to carry out a second appalling offence. 

    Paul O’Hara (pictured), 46, murdered his girlfriend Cherylee Shennan in 2014, a year after he was released from a life sentence for killing his previous partner Janine Waterworth. He had killed 20-year-old Miss Waterworth by ambushing her with a knife at a bus stop in Oldham in 1998.

    Paul O’Hara (pictured), 46, murdered his girlfriend Cherylee Shennan in 2014, a year after he was released from a life sentence for killing his previous partner Janine Waterworth. He had killed 20-year-old Miss Waterworth by ambushing her with a knife at a bus stop in Oldham in 1998.

    O’Hara stabbed Cherylee Shennan (pictured) to death after she reported him for domestic abuse, following his release from prison for a previous murder

    O’Hara stabbed Cherylee Shennan (pictured) to death after she reported him for domestic abuse, following his release from prison for a previous murder

    David Spencer, research director for the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: ‘It is shocking that so many serious offenders have been released early to commit further horrific offences. 

    ‘This data should act as a wakeup call for all those who advocate for releasing criminals early. 

    ‘Clearly the Parole Board has made serious errors in all of these cases and this has to raise the question of whether guidelines need to be tightened to stop similar mistakes being made.’ 

    A Probation Service spokesman said: ‘A number of these second sentences were for historic crimes or offences committed in custody – not under supervision following release from prison. Offenders on licence face strict conditions and fewer than 0.5 per cent are convicted of a serious further offence while under supervision.’ 

    In 2018 the board ruled that Worboys could be freed after serving ten years for a series of sex attacks – but a legal challenge led to the decision being quashed. 

    Earlier this year the board allowed the release of Pitchfork, who raped and murdered two 15- year-old girls in the 1980s. He was released on September 1 but was recalled to jail barely three months later after displaying ‘concerning behaviour’. Sources said he had made multiple approaches to teenagers and young women. 

    Among the double-lifers is Ian Birley, 45, who served 18 years of a life sentence for the murder of a Barnsley pensioner in 1996. 

    After being released on licence he teamed up with his girlfriend before following John Gogarty, 65, to his home in the south Yorkshire town and stabbing him to death. 

    Sex attacker Leroy Campbell, 60, was given a second life sentence for the rape and murder of nurse Lisa Skidmore, 37, in Bilston, West Midlands, in 2016. 

    He had only been released four months earlier after serving 17 years of a previous life sentence for another rape. 

    David Mitchell, 51, was originally given a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend Kathleen McKenzie in 1990. He served 23 years before being released and within four months went on to murder his gay lover Robert Hind, 46, in a drunken rage.