Killer of Garry Newlove to be released from prison despite justice secretary challenge

Garry Newlove was kicked to death outside his home after confronting vandals in 2007. Credit: PA/Cheshire Police

One of the killers of Garry Newlove - who was kicked to death outside his Cheshire home - can be released from prison, after the Parole Board dismissed a bid to keep him behind bars.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland challenged the board's decision to allow 29-year-old Jordan Cunliffe to be released, following a suspected alcohol-related incident in his cell in December last year.

But Judge Michael Topolski QC, giving the decision of a reconsideration assessment panel which was published online on Friday, said there were "no compelling reasons to interfere with the decision".

Cunliffe, who is now registered blind, is serving life for his part in the alcohol-fuelled killing of 47-year-old father-of-three Mr Newlove outside his Warrington home in 2007.

He was one of three teenagers found guilty of murder by a jury at Chester Crown Court in January 2008.

Aged 16 at the time of conviction, he was sentenced to serve a minimum of 12 years, which expired on August 14 last year, Judge Topolski said.

The Parole Board considered Cunliffe's release at a hearing last December, but the decision was reconsidered following a gathering of prisoners inside his cell days before Christmas.

Judge Topolski said it was believed that "some alcohol" had been consumed, adding: "They were noisy and there was some violence, but it was not suggested that the respondent (Cunliffe) was involved in that violence."

Cunliffe had refused to take a breathalyser test and gave "different accounts of what happened", Judge Topolski said.

As a result of the incident, Cunliffe was moved from an open prison into "closed conditions".

His case was adjourned in April for six months, but following a hearing in September, the Parole Board decided he should be released.

Mr Buckland challenged the decision, claiming that because of the December incident "there was insufficient evidence that there had been a sufficient reduction in the respondent's (Cunliffe's) risk to justify release".

But Judge Topolski said the Parole Board had "applied the statutory test" and found it was "no longer necessary for the protection of the public" for Cunliffe to remain in prison.

A Parole Board spokesman said: "The Parole Board has immense sympathy for the families of murder victims and recognises the pain and anguish they have endured.

"A senior judge of the board has rejected the application for reconsideration and found that the decision of the original panel was a rational one which was justified by the evidence they considered."

The reconsideration panel, introduced by the Parole Board in 2019, allows the Secretary of State and prisoners to ask for decisions to be reviewed if they feel they are unfair or irrational.