Grieving mum’s joy at bail law boost

Grenville and Kath Atkinson by the grave of their daughter Claire (below).
Grenville and Kath Atkinson by the grave of their daughter Claire (below).

The family of a Fleetwood woman murdered by her ex-boyfriend while he was out on bail have welcomed a further boost to efforts to change the bail law.

Claire Atkinson, 31, was stabbed to death by Alan Entwistle who had been bailed despite threats to kill her.

Claire Atkinson

Claire Atkinson

The case was very similar to that of Blackpool nurse Jane Clough, whose partner Jonathan Vass was also out on bail when he viciously killed her.

Jane’s parents have been campaigning for reform to the laws surrounding bail of suspected dangerous offenders, and last week PM David Cameron pledged support to a change of law when quizzed last week.

Now Justice Minister Crispin Blunt has thrown his weight behind the move as well.

This week Mr Blunt supported changes to allow victims, through the Crown Prosecution Service, a chance to appeal bail decisions.

Miss Atkinson’s mother, Kathleen Atkinson, told the Weekly News: “This latest support for the change in law is good news. Anything that can stop it happening to any other family has to be good.”

Claire’s father Grenville said: “Sometimes it feels like there is too much on the side if the perpetrator, but when you are on the receiving end of something like this, you feel they should lose rights.”

The parents of Miss Clough said the support from Mr Blunt was welcome – but they now want to know when the proposals will actually become fixed in law.

Penny Clough, Jane’s mother, said: “We really need to know when this is going to become law and start working for victims. It’s nice having it (a statement) from him, to know it is verging on law. But we want it to go through as quickly as possible and start saving lives.”

The proposed amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will enable prosecutors to appeal crown court decisions to release suspected serious offenders on bail to a High Court judge.

Mr Blunt said: “As a matter of course, defendants who have committed violent crimes and pose a danger to the public are always remanded in custody but we know that there have been occasions when offenders have been bailed and have gone on to commit morecrimes. These changes will provide a vital safeguard for the public by allowing prosecutors to challenge crown court bail certain decisions.” The Private Member’s Bill for bail amendment, on behalf of the Cloughs, gets a second reading in March.