Family of mass murder victims speak out in bid to prevent killer Lee Ford from prison release

ITV News Central Reporter Callum Watkinson speaks to Michael Tranter whose four stepchildren were strangled to death

A father whose four children were murdered in 2000 with a rope has started an online campaign to keep the killer behind bars. 

Michael Tranter has spoken out in a bid to ensure Lee Ford - who went on a killing spree in the Cornish hilltop village of Carnkie - is not eligible for parole. 

Mr Tranter, who is from Telford in Shropshire, told ITV News: "I feel as though I've let them down, that's how I feel. I feel so bad...guilty."

"I totally think it's my fault and I shouldn't feel that way - somebody who said they would take the children on and live with them as a stepfather - and so I feel as though it's me who has let them down."

Ford strangled four of Mr Tranter's stepchildren from behind with a rope and bludgeoned his wife to death with her daughter's rounders bat.

It took a month for their bodies to be discovered.

"This chap has took five lives and it completely messed up a lot of people's lives," Mr Tranter said.

"I feel as though it's me who has left them down," Michael Tranter tells ITV News Central

Lesley and her boys Craig Tranter, 13, and Steven, 14, were found in the garden shed of her Cornish home and the two girls, Anne-Marie Tranter, 16, and Sarah-Jane Tranter 17, were found in a shallow grave in a nearby field. 

Ford was given five life sentences in 2001 and told he would serve a minimum of 35 years before being considered for parole.

The 35 years jail sentence was later appealed and changed to 27.

Ford, aged 33, tried to cover up his crimes by inventing a story that 36-year-old Lesley had left him, taking the four children she had with Mr Tranter away with her. 

Ford had asked a neighbour if he could store some Christmas presents at his home so the children would not find them. 

He also telephoned the school in Helston where three of the children studied to tell them they had left the area.

He continued to live at their bungalow with his and Lesley's own children, who were spared.

Lee Ford murdered four children in 2000 Credit: Handout

Ford has never publicly said why he killed five of the people he was closest to.

A petition has been launched to urge lawmakers to prevent Ford from ever being released.

It has been started by Nicki Budden, whose ex-husband was Lesley's brother. 

In the petition she writes: "We have to live with what he did for the rest of our lives and feel that he should never be released.

"The effect their deaths had on anyone that knew them was catastrophic. From family to all their school friends."

She adds: "He has never given a reason as to why he did what he did or when he actually committed the murders, we don't even have a day that we can commemorate."

Lee Ford continued to live at their bungalow with his and Lesley's own children Credit: ITV News Central

Ms Budden said: "He also shows no remorse. We feel if he were released he would still be a danger to the public.

"In the eyes of the law familial crime is not judged the same as stranger killing. In my opinion it's worse as the person who you loved and trusted the most commits the ultimate betrayal.

"I hope you will all sign this petition to ensure that Lee Ford stays in prison for the rest of his natural life, as someone that planned and executed the murder of five people and then covered it up is beyond words."

Petition backer Gemma Eden, who is a proud stepdaughter of Mr Tranter, added: "We want justice for them - Mike needs justice."

When the petition hits 15,000 the campaigners hope to get it debated in Parliament. It is currently on 10,800.