Jailed again: double Wigan killer breaches licence after just six weeks of freedom

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You would think that the parents of a Wigan killer’s victim would be delighted he was back behind bars.

But it was with very mixed feelings that Trevor and Sheila Fairhurst took a call from the Ministry of Justice informing them that Darren Pilkington had once more breached the terms of his licence and had returned to prison.

Because they know it means the cycle of parole applications and hearings, victim impact statements and endless worrying about the now 41-year-old’s further release will begin all over again.

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The Hindley couple, whose 19-year-old daughter Carly died at her abusive boyfriend’s hands in 2006, are beginning to lose track of the number of times Pilkington has been in and out of prison since he was first sentenced for her manslaughter.

Darren Pilkington who now calls himself Darren CarrDarren Pilkington who now calls himself Darren Carr
Darren Pilkington who now calls himself Darren Carr
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After serving about a decade behind bars – during which time the Fairhursts had to take part in several parole hearings to block his early release under the terms of the now scrapped Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) scheme – Pilkington has been released and imprisoned for licence breaches several times and was also given an extra custodial sentence for a prison break.

Each time the couple get dragged back into the legal processes aimed at punishing, rehabilitating and giving new chances of freedom to the man who not only ended their daughter’s life but also killed pal Paul Akister several years earlier.

Trevor said: “There is of course some sense of relief that he has been locked up again, but he should be kept in prison indefinitely, yet keeps being given more and more chances.

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Domestic abuse victim Carly FairhurstDomestic abuse victim Carly Fairhurst
Domestic abuse victim Carly Fairhurst

"Every time he gets another chance it frightens us and then every time he blows it we know that we will have to get back on that legal merry-go-round yet again in what will almost certainly be another vain attempt at stopping his further release.

"This time he’s only lasted about six weeks on the outside. He's never going to change.

"We don’t know what he’s done: all the MoJ would say was that he hadn’t harmed anybody and that he didn’t breach the exclusion zone by coming to Wigan. I guess we will find out eventually.

"They have already asked us if we want to update our victim impact statement.

"As Sheila says: it’s us with the life sentence.”

Pilkington pushed Carly downstairs during a row and left her badly injured all night before ringing 999 and at first claiming that he had just come home to find her.

He is one of the few people in British legal history to be jailed for two completely unconnected manslaughters.

A parole hearing held earlier this year decided that he should be released on licence again, subject to strict conditions including residing at a designated address, keeping away from the exclusion zone, staying on the right side of the law and submitting to enhanced supervision, including a curfew and electronic tracking.

Against him it was said there were a number of risk factors from his past, which included his attitudes towards violence and crime, his choice of a negative peer group, misuse of both alcohol and drugs, communication difficulties and a generally unstable lifestyle. A poor response to supervision had been a persistent problem.

In favour was evidence that since his latest reincarceration his behaviour had been “generally good, that he had a trusted prison job and had obtained a vocational qualification. There had been no evidence of any violent behaviour.”

He had also completed work on alcohol, relapse prevention and managing boredom and stress. He had remained on a specialist unit for those committed to recovering from their addictions and was considered to have developed a good level of insight into the risks associated with his drug use.

Trevor said: “We lost faith with the parole board long ago. They make all these assessments of his fitness to be released and he doesn’t even manage two months before proving them wrong.”

The couple are also concerned that in future they are not going to be kept as much up to date with case developments because a police officer who fulfilled that task has now retired and they have been told that it is up to the parole board to fill them in from now on.

Trevor added: “We feel isolated and out of the loop.”