A “dangerous” killer who murdered a pizza delivery girl in a frenzied sex attack in a case that made legal history could be moved to an open prison.
In 2006 William Dunlop, known as Billy, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years after admitting murdering his ex-girlfriend, 22-year-old mother Julie Hogg, in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham in 1989.
He was the first person to be charged twice with the same offence after the then 800-year-old double jeopardy laws were changed.
The sentence came at the end of a 15-year-long battle by her mother Ann Ming who campaigned to have the law changed so she could get justice for her daughter.
Now the Parole Board has recommended Dunlop, 59, be moved to an open prison – a lower security jail where he could be granted temporary release on occasion. But the Justice Secretary, who can block such moves, must decide whether he approves the plan.
The Parole Board said: “After considering in detail the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the very full evidence presented at the hearing and in the dossier, the panel was not satisfied that Mr Dunlop was suitable for release.
“However, on considering the criteria for recommending placement in open conditions, the panel recommended that Mr Dunlop should be progressed in this way. It is now for the Secretary of State to decide whether he accepts the Parole Board’s recommendation.”
Ms Hogg’s disappearance in November 1989 was initially treated as a missing person inquiry until she was found by her mother 80 days later.
The partially mutilated body of the mother, who had a three-year-old son, was discovered decomposing behind a bath panel. The court heard Ms Hogg was “subjected to a violent sexual assault” after she rejected Dunlop, who was branded by the Crown Prosecution Service a “dangerous killer” who tried to escape responsibility for a “premeditated and truly horrendous” attack.
Dunlop twice stood trial but each time a jury failed to reach a verdict. He was formally cleared but later confessed and admitting lying in court, boasting there was nothing anyone could do about it.
He was then jailed for six years for perjury and afterwards charged with the murder again once the law changed.
In his second Parole Board review Mr Dunlop, who gave evidence at a hearing alongside officials and his probation officer, did not ask to be released but indicated he hoped to be transferred to an open prison.
Parole Board judges found that at the time of his offending, Dunlop had a “willingness to use extreme violence” fuelled by alcohol, drugs and his friends, a document detailing the decision said.
He had “difficulties with relationships, thought about sex a lot, and felt entitled to sex.
“His attitude towards women had been problematic and he had an interest in sexual violence.”
Dunlop also found it “difficult to understand the impact of his behaviour on others.”
During his time in custody he had completed “intensive therapeutic and offending behaviour work” over a number of years focussing on his “personality issues as well as his thinking and decision-making skills, relationships and intimacy, the factors which specifically underpinned his sexual offending, and his misuse of drugs and alcohol”, the papers said.
He has since shown a “significant shift in his understanding of his own behaviour and the impact on other people” and took “full responsibility” for the offence.
There had been no evidence of “violence, sexually inappropriate behaviour or substance misuse for many years”, his behaviour was “generally positive” in prison and his maturity had “increased”.
Officials did not think he was suitable for release but felt a period of time in open prison could be “helpful and safe”.
The Justice Secretary will only grant a transfer to open prison if the inmate is deemed to be “at low risk of absconding and where a period in open prison is considered essential to inform future decisions about release and to prepare for possible release on licence into the community”, the Parole Board added.