New manhunt for Wigan double killer - at large again on his teen victim's birthday

A notorious Wigan double killer is being hunted by police yet again after going AWOL on what would have been his second victim’s birthday.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 11:58 am

The parents of teenager Carly Fairhurst - fatally injured in an attack by boyfriend Darren Pilkington in 2006 - were horrified to receive a phone call from the Ministry of Justice on Monday morning informing them that the violent thug had absconded from his bail hostel over night.

Trevor Fairhurst said it was time to “lock him up for good” after what is Pilkington’s fifth licence breach since completing a 10-year stretch for the 19-year-old’s manslaughter in 2016.

To make the news all the more distressing, it broke just as Trevor and wife Sheila were marking what would have been Carly’s 35th birthday.

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Carly Fairhurst

They take som comfort in knowing that, once recaptured, 39-year-old Pilkington will probably be put behind bars yet again, and they say he would be particularly foolish before then to venture into Wigan borough (from where he is barred) because that is where people are most likely to recognise him.

But they know that if he is locked up, they will have to re-enter the “circus” of writing victim impact statements and attending parole board hearings that have dogged them for the best part of the last 15 years ago.

When Pilkington - who had already served a jail sentence for the manslaughter of Hindley man Paul Akister in 2000 - was jailed at Manchester Crown Court in 2007 he was given an indeterminate sentence which meant that once he had served a minimum term prescribed by the judge - which amounted to less than three years - he was entitled to make regular appeals for release, which also involved his victim’s family.

Several attempts at freedom were rejected - not least because he went missing from his cell one night while still incarcerated - but eventually the day came when the parole board let him go.

Sheila and Trevor Fairhurst

Since then though Pilkington has been re-arrested four times for licence breaches, the one before this - the Fairhursts were appalled to discover later - was because he had established a relationship with a woman without informing the authorities.

Details of what has unfolded in the last day are not clear but the Hindley couple presume that Pilkington was still living in the Lancashire town of Accrington - where he now calls himself Darren Carr and even has a Facebook profile - and had breached a night-time curfew by failing to return to his hostel on Sunday evening.

Mr Fairhurst said: “We couldn’t believe it when our probation case worker from the Ministry of Justice contacted us this morning to say that Pilkington has absconded again.

“There’s just this horrible feeling of déjà vu and it’s further compounded by the fact that today would have been Carly’s birthday.

Darren Pilkington now calls himself Darren Carr

“Just how many more chances is this guy going to get? He is still a danger to the public, no matter how ‘well behaved’ the parole board thought he had been before his last release and we don’t think he will ever mend his ways.

“We don’t think he would be stupid enough to come round here - although he still has family in the area - because this is the place where he is most likely to be recognised. And it does mean that when the law catches up with him and he will presumably get locked up once more.

“But that in turn means that we get dragged back into that circus of parole hearings and impact statements, the latter of which never seems to have any impact on an ever-forgiving parole board. We just want this to end.”

Carly and Pilkington struck up a pen friend relationship while the latter was in jail for Mr Akister’s manslaughter. On release they started going out, much to the concerns of the teen’s parents.

After her death, the Fairhursts discovered that Pilkington had attacked Carly on several occasions but she kept it from them. Then on a fateful night in late January 2006, the couple were minding a house for a friend in Ince when they had a row at the top of the stairs and Pilkington pushed his girlfriend down them.

He then left her there all night, badly injured and only rang 999 the next morning, at first pretending that he had only just come in to find her. He was arrested for assault and, when Carly lost her battle for life in hospital several days later, he was re-arrested on suspicion of murder.

At court the prosecution accepted a manslaughter guilty plea.

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