Another unrepentant Wigan killer is back on the streets today.
Darren Ashurst, convicted of the 1995 murder of Appley Bridge teen Louise Sellars, was told by the Parole Board that he is now a free man - despite an 11th hour bid by her family to thwart his release.
The 15-year-old’s mother had tried to appeal, saying the report explaining reasons for his liberation admit he has not engaged with programmes behind bars aimed at understanding why he killed her daughter.
Elaine Sellars said that if that was not understood - Ashurst still denies the crime - how can anyone be sure that he isn’t still a danger?
This has loud resonances with recent board decisions to free two other local killers: Ian Simms who murdered clerk Helen McCourt in Billinge; and Darren Pilkington, a man who had already killed when he admitted the manslaughter of 19-year-old girlfriend Carly Fairhurst from Hindley.
In both cases, surviving relatives voiced fear at the dangers of liberating men who show no remorse. But appeals have fallen on deaf ears.
In the case of now 45-year-old Ashurst, the board made its decision in September, saying he had served three years, nine months longer than the 16-year minimum term imposed by a Manchester Crown Court judge in 2000 and, while both his offender manager and offender supervisor voiced reservations, it had given greater weight to psychologists’ assessments which recommended release.
Since then Mrs Sellars was permitted to object. But she recently received a letter saying her application did not meet the criteria for a ruling reassessment.
It added: “The psychologists’ evidence is directly focused on the risk of Mr Ashurst committing a further offence that causes serious harm, which is of most relevance to the Panel in terms of their decision-making.
“They consider that the evidence of his offender manager and offender supervisor focuses less on the impact of his risk of causing serious harm, which would explain why they have placed less weight on this set of evidence.
“We note your concerns that it is arguably more difficult to ‘test’ offenders’ likelihood of committing similar further offences when in an environment where they have limited access to potential victims.
“However, Mr Ashurst has spent 27 months in open conditions where he has undertaken a number of ‘releases on temporary licence’ into the community and there has been no evidence of any behaviours that would highlight an increase in risk, specifically in this case to vulnerable females."