Triple killer should be moved to open prison, Parole Board says

A triple murderer should be moved to an open prison, the Parole Board has said.

Phillip Austin was jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years in 2001 after killing his wife Claire, 31, and their two children – eight-year-old Keiren and Jade, seven. The bodies of the family’s two poodles were also found at the Northampton home.

The Parole Board decided he was not suitable to be freed from prison but a panel recommended for a second time that Austin – who was handed three life sentences to be served concurrently – should be transferred to a lower security jail.

The final decision lies with Justice Secretary Alex Chalk.

Papers detailing the Parole Board’s decision said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was not satisfied that Mr Austin was suitable for release.

“However, on considering the criteria for recommending placement in open conditions, the panel recommended that Mr Austin should be progressed in this way.

“It is now for the Secretary of State to decide whether he accepts the Parole Board’s recommendation.”

Now 54, Austin first became eligible for release in July 2020 and his case was considered by the Parole Board for the first time in April 2021.

At the time, it was recommended he be moved to an open prison but this was rejected by then justice secretary Robert Buckland.

When it initially emerged Austin was due for parole, Claire’s mother Carol Quinn launched a petition calling for multiple murderers never to be released from jail amid fears he could carry out more attacks.

Comments posted on the petition page on Friday expressed shock at the Parole Board decision and urged the public to show their support for the campaign.

According to parole documents, at the time of his offending Austin had relationship and drinking problems, could not control his emotions and had a “lack of self-worth”.

But he has since taken part in courses to address his behaviour as well as tests in different prison environments and has made “continuing good progress”, the report said.

It said witnesses who gave evidence to the parole review about Austin were “confident” he would “succeed in an open prison and that it would be an essential step in order to inform future decisions about release, and to prepare Mr Austin for a possible future release on licence”, adding that there was “no suggestion that Mr Austin would be likely to abscond if he were to be moved to an open prison.”