Chief Inspector: Killer of two gay men should never have been granted day release

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An escaped killer previously convicted of murdering one gay man and the manslaughter of another – who then killed again – should never have been allowed to leave an open prison, the Chief Inspector of Prisons has said.

Ian John McLoughlin absconded on day release in July 2013 and stabbed to death 66-year-old Graham Buck, after the victim tried to prevent McLoughlin from attacking convicted paedophile Francis Cory-Wright, who was Mr Buck’s neighbour.

McLoughlin was on day release from Springhill Prison in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, having been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Brighton gay barman Peter Halls in 1992.

Mr Hall, 56, was fatally stabbed in the neck.

McLoughlin was 22 years into a 25-year sentence when he fatally stabbed Mr Buck. He was serving his sentence at Springhill.

McLoughlin, also known as Ian John Baker, was jailed for 10 years in October 1983 – eventually lowered to eight on appeal – in relation to the death of another gay man, 49-year-old Len Delgatty, from Stoke Newington in east London. He died after suffering head injuries inflicted by a hammer.

In a report drawn up in January last year but made public yesterday, Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, highlighted a catalogue of failings that allowed McLoughlin to be released in July 2013.

The Argus reports Mr Hardwick said: “The decision to release Ian McLoughlin had catastrophic consequences.”

McLoughlin had a history of violent attacks towards men he suspected of paedophilia and had failed to return to prison after being allowed out on day release before.

But despite these warning signs, poor leadership and a failure to properly assess the risk he posed meant officials waved through his day release in July 2013.

Mr Hardwick branded the system for identifying and managing prisoners released on temporary licence (ROTL) woefully inadequate.

The number of times prisoners serving indeterminate sentences, which are handed out to the most dangerous convicts, have been allowed out on day release has increased from 38,000 to more than 90,000 between 2008 and 2012.

The Chief Inspector warned that officials had failed to appreciate McLoughlin’s dangerous “pattern of drinking, identifying single male targets who he believed to be paedophiles and/or homosexuals, returning to their houses, getting involved in an altercation and attacking them”.

He concluded: “It was not appropriate to release Mr McLoughlin for the first time since his previous failure in 2011 for such a lengthy, unaccompanied, unstructured and unmonitored ROTL.

“Mr McLoughlin’s custodial behaviour was good and the prison had no security intelligence or concerns about his conduct. However, he presented a concerning risk profile.

“He had previously been convicted of manslaughter and had committed at least one murder. He had failed open conditions twice before. This was his first opportunity to be released on temporary licence since his ROTL failure in 2011. The risks he presented on ROTL were not sufficiently assessed or managed.”