THE parents of a Wigan teenager are considering a boycott of her killer’s bid for freedom.
Trevor and Sheila Fairhurst say they are distressed that the process, which will see Darren Pilkington attempting to get downgraded to a lower security prison in a first step towards release, is “skewed in the guilty party’s favour.”
The Hindley couple are able to attend a Parole Board hearing at HMP Garth on August 24 at which the victim impact statement they have written will be read out.
But they object to the fact that double-killer Pilkington will have legal representation that can question their statement and that he is under no obligation to attend.
The Fairhursts, whose 19-year-old Carly was killed five years ago by Pilkington, say they should not be denied their chance to confront him at the hearing and resent the fact that they cannot cross-examine him.
Pilkington, now 29, was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection after admitting Carly’s manslaughter and having previously served a sentence for the manslaughter of Hindley man Paul Akister.
His first bid to be moved to a lower category of jail was summarily thrown out last year without even a full hearing.
But he is entitled to re-apply every year and this time the Parole Board will hear both sides at the Leyland prison next month.
Mr Fairhurst said: “The odds are still against him winning because of what he did but no-one can give us a cast iron guarantee. And we are appalled that the whole parole system seems to be skewed in the prisoner’s favour.
“We were told that he will have legal representation who can question our victim impact statement but we are not entitled to representation. Also he is not obliged to attend and we have been told that it is 99.9 per cent certain that he won’t.
“We wanted to confront him in the hearing and it looks like we are going to be denied that. He should be made to appear.
“We are seriously considering not going in protest.”
A Parole Board spokesman said: “The reason the victim or the family of victims do not get legal representation is that they are not one of the two legal parties as laid down by Parole Board rules. The two parties are the prisoner and the Justice Secretary, the latter of whom is represented by an advocate who can read out the impact statement if the family choose not to.
“It is like a trial where witnesses do not have legal representation. Neither does the accused have to attend the hearing - it can just look bad if they don’t.
“As far as questioning the impact statement, that should all start before the hearing begins. The two parties can discuss what is relevant and reach an agreement on what can be read out.
“For instance if the victims or their families claim that the prisoner is still a risk this is not deemed to be able to state this because they have not observed the prisoner since the original court case.”