Attracta Husband Challenges Hain

The husband of murdered Strabane pensioner Attracta Harron today challenged the Government to prove it is serious about scrapping Ulster’s controversial 50% remission policy for dangerous sex offenders.

Following a high profile Belfast Telegraph campaign, backed by 35,000 people, Secretary of State Peter Hain has indicated that violent criminals, rapists, paedophiles and sex attackers who pose a dangerous risk to the public will no longer be entitled to automatically walk free halfway through their sentence.

While Michael Harron said he was pleased by the news, he added that he will not be happy until legislation is introduced that will keep serious offenders – including his wife’s killer Trevor Hamilton – behind bars indefinitely.

“I hope the Government will have the courage to get rid of 50% remission completely for these dangerous offenders and bring us into line with England and Wales. We need to ensure that when someone is deemed as dangerous as Hamilton he cannot be released until he is no longer a threat to the public,” he said.

Mr Hain was asked to re-investigate Northern Ireland’s early release policy by Prime Minister Tony Blair after this paper brought our Justice For Attracta campaign to Downing Street.

The Secretary of State has revealed to the Belfast Telegraph that following a review of sentencing policy in Northern Ireland the Government is considering sentences which would see dangerous offenders kept behind bars indefinitely or to the end of their sentence.

In a letter to this paper he said: “I am aware of the concerns of your readers about the automatic nature of release at the halfway stage.

“The Government is considering a range of new sentencing options, including sentences for public protection.

“These sentences would allow dangerous violent or sexual offenders to be detained in prison indefinitely or to the end of their sentence, if they are assessed as continuing to pose a risk to the public. In such circumstances the application of automatic remission at the halfway stage would be removed.”

Mr Hain added that he has asked Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson to bring forward concrete proposals within the next few weeks. The Belfast Telegraph’s Justice For Attracta campaign was launched in May.