May 2017

Child killer still a danger to the public

An unrepentant Erdington sex killer who raped and strangled a 13-year-old schoolgirl is still a danger to the public say experts.

Paedophile Patrick Hassett, 58, brutally murdered Candice Williams after meeting her in the street and enticing her to an Erdington tower block where he carried out a sex attack and strangled her with her own shoelaces. in 1978.

However, it was not until advances in DNA technology that he was finally charged and convicted in 1992.

Hassett was ultimately given a 17-year minimum term, but remains in jail even now and is being held as a high category prisoner.

Last year, he took his bid to be moved to less secure conditions and thus an easier time behind bars to the High Court and then to the Court of Appeal earlier this year after losing his initial case.

Three of the country’s senior appeal judges returned to court in London to dismiss Hassett’s case once and for all on Thursday (May 4).

Giving judgment, Lord Justice Sales said the Ministry of Justice’s decision to refuse to demote him to an easier category without an oral hearing was not wrong.

And, after considering the arguments with Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Moylan, he also refused him permission to fight on in the Supreme Court.

“There was no breach of the common law requirements of fairness in the circumstances of this case,” he said.

The judge said that, although he was not convicted for the murder until 1992, Hassett had been in prison since 1984 for other sexual offences.

Despite his decades behind bars, experts had continued to assess him as a “high risk of sexual reconviction”, he said.

A prison psychologist said Hassett struggled to show what he had learned in prison and continued to deny a preoccupation with sex in his offending.

He also continued to deny the rape and killing of Candice, the judge said.

On appeal, his lawyers said he should not have been denied re-categorisation in jail without an oral hearing before the prison categories board.

Another psychologist, Rhys Matthews, had reported on Hassett’s progress and given a more positive picture of him, the judges were told.

But Lord Justice Sales said that, although the report was more positive, it too expressed concerns about Hassett and his inability to accept he is a sex offender.

“The question to be answered was whether Mr Hassett would present a risk to the public if he escaped from prison,” he said.

“Mr Matthews’ report did not suggest that he would not; rather, it strongly tended to indicate that he would.

“That was also the view of the prison psychology service.

“On the relevant question, therefore, there was no real or significant dispute between the expert psychologists.”

The decision to keep him in Category A conditions was “lawful”, he added.

All three judges agreed and dismissed Hassett’s appeal.

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