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Murderer Russell Causley to be freed from jail

The Government decided not to ask the Parole Board to reconsider its decision.

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Russell Causley

A murderer who has never revealed where he hid his wife’s body is set to be freed from jail after the Government decided not to challenge the decision.

Russell Causley made UK legal history last year when he became the first prisoner to face a public parole hearing.

Causley was handed a life sentence for killing Carole Packman, who disappeared in 1985, a year after he moved his lover into the family home in Bournemouth, Dorset.

Carol Packman murder
Carole Packman disappeared in 1985 and her body has never been found (Family handout/PA)

He was freed from prison in 2020 after serving more than 23 years for the murder but was sent back to jail the following year after breaching his licence conditions.

Earlier this month the Parole Board said he was suitable to be released from prison again.

At the time, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab – who described Causley as a “calculated killer” who “callously prolonged the suffering” of Ms Packman’s loved ones by “refusing to reveal the whereabouts of her body” – said he was “carefully” considering whether to appeal against the decision.

Russell Causley public parole hearing
Russell Causley and Carole Packman’s daughter Samantha Gillingham wants to confront her father about her mother’s disappearance (Yui Mok/PA)

But on Tuesday the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed it would not ask the Parole Board to reconsider the ruling because there were no grounds to do so.

A MoJ spokeswoman said: “We have thoroughly examined the Parole Board’s decision but detailed legal advice concluded there were no grounds to ask them to reconsider their decision.

“We know this will be incredibly difficult for Carole Packman’s family, but Russell Causley will be under close supervision for the rest of his life and can be recalled to prison if he breaches the strict conditions of his release.

“Our parole reforms will stand up for the rights of victims in cases like this, making public safety the overriding factor in parole decisions and adding a ministerial veto on release of the most serious offenders.”

The Justice Secretary can only challenge Parole Board decisions if there is an error of law or if there is evidence the process has been followed incorrectly, the same threshold as for judicial reviews.

Causley and Ms Packman’s daughter Samantha Gillingham, from Northamptonshire, previously told the PA news agency she was “disappointed” by the decision to free him again and branded the parole process a “tick-box exercise”, adding: “There’s nothing that I can do about it … We still don’t know where my mother is.”

She still hopes meet her father, after decades of asking to confront him about her mother’s disappearance.

The Parole Board said reviews are carried out “thoroughly and with extreme care” and protecting the public was the “number one priority”.

Causley will be subject to “strict” licence conditions, including being required to live at a certain address as well as facing restrictions on his movements, activities and who he contacts.

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