The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has apologised after a murderer’s parole dates were given to a newspaper before the victim’s family.
Russell Causley, now in his late 70s, was convicted of murdering his wife, Carole Packman, in 1985 and handed a life sentence.
He was freed from prison in 2020, after serving more than 23 years for the murder, but was returned to jail in November last year after breaching his licence conditions.
Neil Gillingham, the grandson of Causley and Ms Packman, said the family have been seeking confirmation of the details for Causley’s latest parole hearings for several weeks.
But the Parole Board first confirmed them with the Bournemouth Daily Echo newspaper at the end of June.
In a statement, an MoJ spokesman said: “We are deeply sorry for the distress this has caused Carole’s family and are working closely with the Parole Board to make sure this kind of error doesn’t happen again.”
Causley, who has never revealed where he hid Ms Packman’s body, is next due to face the Parole Board in October.
It could be one of the first parole hearings to take place in public, following an application from Mr Gillingham, who does not want his grandfather to be released.
Mr Gillingham told the PA news agency that it took the Parole Board until Tuesday to tell the family why his grandfather had been taken back into custody in November – information they had been seeking for months in order to prepare suitable parole statements.
He also criticised the Parole Board over its handling of the application for a public hearing as well as the process for the family to make submissions for the hearing.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “I cannot accept their apology and ask for nothing but to see them demonstrating that they are taking the feedback on.”
“There’s just a lack of transparency, a lack of consideration, a lack of sensitivity,” he added.
“Simultaneously, I’ve got my grandfather that’s using the Parole Voard as a vocal platform to access my mother and I legitimately to change his account of how he murdered our loved one,” he said, adding that this has compounded the psychological distress caused to himself and his family.
In 10 weeks' time, they're going to release a convicted wife killer. Fact. It's going happen, I've accepted it. But other people need to get behind my mother and I, because, if they don't, he's going to live next door to you
Neil Gillingham, grandson of murderer Russell Causley
Mr Gillingham said he wants a public parole hearing to draw attention to what he sees as the failure of legal changes designed to make it harder to release killers who refuse to reveal the whereabouts of victims’ bodies.
“In 10 weeks’ time, they’re going to release a convicted wife killer. Fact. It’s going happen, I’ve accepted it,” he said.
“But other people need to get behind my mother and I, because, if they don’t, he’s going to live next door to you.”
He added: “Seriously, with how they treat my family, it’s just absolutely diabolical.”
The application is the second to be received by the Parole Board requesting a public hearing after a rule change last month to allow members of the public and the media to observe proceedings.