September 2004

Parents’ torment as paedophile jailed for life is set to enjoy day release

Bernard MacAnaspie of Harlow Middlesex was jailed for life at St Albans Court in July 1981 for sexually assaulting and then murdering 9-year-old Steven Edmonston, his best friend’s son.

SOCCER mad schoolboy Steven Edmonston vanished from outside his home 24 years ago next month. 

Two days later, his naked and battered body was found dumped four miles away in a ditch. 

The nine year-old had been punched, kicked, clubbed, stripped and subjected to a vicious sex attack. 

Then he had been strangled and stabbed through the heart. 

Paedophile Bernard Macanaspie – a friend of his victim’s parents, Tony and Sue – was jailed for life for the murder. 

The judge recommended that he serve at least 20 years but, as a child sex killer, it was assumed that he would never again taste freedom. 

Now Tony and Sue, from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, have been told that the evil murderer is being ‘re-integrated into the community’. 

He is to enjoy day release from jail, shopping trips, and could soon be moved to an open prison, paving the way for his eventual release. 

Last night devastated mum Sue reacted with fury at the news. 

‘Life should mean life,’ she said. ‘He should never be released.’ 

Steven disappeared in October, 1980. For 10 days, while the hunt for the killer went on, his grief-stricken parents were consoled by next door neighbour and friend Macanaspie. 

But the then 30 year-old was hiding a terrible secret – he was the monster who had brutally murdered their beloved son after luring him to his home. 

The paedophile, a divorced father-of-two, continued the cruel charade until he was snared after two children told police how they had seen him call Steven into his Essex home. 

After a trial, the sadistic killer was jailed for life by a judge who ordered that he serve at least 20 years. Since the tariff expired, Steven’s parents have been fighting to keep Macanaspie behind bars. 

They have lobbied Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Parole Board to ensure that the monster, now 54, is never freed. 

But the brave couple, who moved to the Midlands after the murder to start a new life, have now received the shattering news that he is on the verge of being released. 

Parole chiefs have informed Tony and Sue, 53, that they are looking to begin his re-integration back into the community by taking him out of jail on day trips. 

‘He is being considered for day visits into the community and will be taken on things like shopping trips in and around the Bath area,’ said Sue. ‘That means, unless something drastic happens, he could be freed before too long. 

‘We believe he is currently in a category C prison at Shepton Mallet, Somerset. 

‘If these plans go ahead, he could soon be moved to a category D open jail which could lead to his eventual parole. I’m not sure how we would cope if he was freed. My husband says he would want to try and find him – and I could imagine what would happen if he did. I couldn’t stop him. You can see why he feels that’s what he has to do. 

‘We don’t feel that the man who murdered our son should ever be allowed to go free.’ 

The couple have already penned a heart-rending letter to the Prime Minister, pleading for the killer to be kept behind bars permanently. 

They wrote: ‘In this man’s case, life should mean life, and he should never be allowed a single day’s freedom. 

‘Macanaspie used our friendship to sexually abuse our son and then murdered him to cover up his crime. 

‘He has never accepted that he is a paedophile and therefore the wickedness of what he did has never been addressed. 

‘This is a man who appeared totally normal after killing our child and it would not be difficult for him to present a picture of someone who is fit for release. 

‘Our fear is that he still poses a danger and if he were to be released he would re-offend. 

‘We could not bear to see him inflict on other families the suffering we have been forced to endure. And we appeal to you to make sure this could never happen.’ 

Norman Brennan, of the Victims Of Crime Trust, last night backed the Edmonstons’ call that life should mean life. 

‘There’s no known medical cure for paedophilia,’ he said. ‘Paedophile murderers should never be allowed parole under any circumstances. 

‘It would be like releasing a human time-bomb and the public should not be put at risk. 

‘The family of Steven will serve a life sentence because their child will never be allowed to fulfil the future he could have hoped for. 

‘It is only right that his killer stays behind bars permanently.’ 

Sue also hit out at plans by Britain’s top judges that could see murderers back on the streets in as little as seven years. 

Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, last week unveiled draft guidelines which could slash the 15-year minimum murder sentence – set by Home Secretary David Blunkett just last year – to seven years with remission. 

The plan will benefit killers who make a ‘particularly early confession of guilt’ or show ‘absolute candour’ in co-operating with police. 

‘It’s utter madness,’ said Sue. ‘Judges are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think shorter sentences for murderers is realistic. ‘They insult my son Steven and victims like him. 

‘David Blunkett increased the life tariff for murder because of genuine anxiety from the public about lenient sentencing. 

‘At least with politicians the public has a say at the ballot box. We don’t have that with judges.’ 

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis has also been outraged by the reduced sentences. 

‘A mere six or seven years for murder would be a joke if it were not a tragedy,’ he said. 

Before Mr Blunkett introduced the 15-year sentence, the average time served by killers was just 11 years.