Gran who discovered dead daughter and children in 'house of horrors' opposes triple killer's release

  • ITV News Anglia's Sarah Cooper sat down with Carol Quinn, the mother and grandmother of Philip Austin's victims

A grandmother who found the bodies of her murdered daughter and two grandchildren in a "house of horrors" scene says her killer son-in-law must never be released - because she fears he may offend again.

Philip Austin was jailed for the triple murder of his wife Claire Austin, and their two children - eight-year-old Keiren and Jade, who was seven - at their home in Northampton in July 2000.

But the Parole Board has now recommended he be moved to an open prison, pending a final decision from the justice secretary, a move that is fiercely opposed by Carol Quinn, 74.

"He was just evil, evil. And he is not going to change," she said. “It’s just a matter of time before he repeats it."

"I think the parole board members should be responsible for that - if he kills again they should be held responsible.”

Claire Austin with her two children, Keiren, eight, and Jade, seven. Credit: ITV Anglia

Ms Quinn, from Bugbrooke in Northamptonshire, discovered the bodies with her late husband Harry and said the memories were still fresh.

“The pictures are there - Claire, Keiren, Jade. I was told that eventually those pictures would be back there," she said, gesturing to the back of her head.

But, pointing to the front, she added: "They’re still there.

"I don’t think they’ll ever move from there. It was like walking into a house of horrors, it was absolutely dreadful.”

Ms Quinn, who previously worked for Northamptonshire Police, said she knew at the time that she should not touch her daughter.

But she said: "To this day, I think, why didn't I? Why didn't I go and hug her? But I knew I mustn't.

"It was horrendous, absolutely horrendous. That's why [Austin] couldn't come back.

"He couldn't even ring someone and say they're there. He left it for us to find them. He's evil."

Phillip Austin was jailed for life after killing his wife Claire and their two children – Keiren and Jade. Credit: PA

Austin, now 54, was jailed for life in 2001 with a minimum term of 20 years.

The Parole Board last week recommended for a second time that he should be transferred to an open prison, where prisoners are allowed to spend most of their day somewhere else to work or study.

Ms Quinn is now petitioning to keep her daughter's and grandchildren's killer behind bars.

She said: "He didn’t show the dark side before, he covered it up - he’s still doing that. He’ll show his dark side again, believe you me.

"And I just don’t want someone else’s murder on my conscience. I’m trying to stop it and I just wish that the justice system would stop it.”

Ms Quinn last week buried her late husband Harry alongside her daughter and grandchildren at the Northamptonshire graveyard just a short walk from her house.

He died in April, and Ms Quinn believes that his grief contributed to his poor health.

Keiren and Jade were killed by their father, Philip Austin. Credit: ITV Anglia

She said he would be horrified to hear that Austin could be moved to open prison.

He should come out when Claire and the children can come out of their graves, and not before.

"And the only time I’ll ever get any peace is, either when I hear that he’s dead, or when I die, because until then there’s no peace."

She said she still had an "awful hatred and anger inside", adding: "It’s not nice to live with that - I wish I didn’t, but that’s the legacy.”

She said the Parole Board was "not looking at the bigger picture".

"He's not going to misbehave in a prison, is he? He's not going to have a wife to beat up. He was never violent in the marriage."

She added: "Who would want him to have a relationship with their sister, daughter, whoever. Would you want him living next door to you?"

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

It was recommended he be moved to an open prison, but that was blocked by the then justice secretary.

At the time, Ms Quinn had launched a petition calling for multiple murderers never to be released from jail. Her petition had more than 14,000 signatures.

A final decision will be taken by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk.

The Ministry of Justice says it had “introduced greater scrutiny" of Parole Board recommendations on open prison moves and would review the case carefully.

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