Wife killer Robert Brown is to remain behind bars after the Justice Secretary blocked his early release following a campaign by Carrie Johnson.
Alex Chalk intervened on Wednesday to refer Brown’s case to the parole board to decide whether he should be freed or serve a longer sentence.
It means that he will no longer be released next month – when he was due to be freed at the halfway point of his 26 year jail sentence for manslaughter – and will instead have to wait nine months before the parole board reviews his case.
It followed a campaign by the family and friends of his estranged wife Joanna Simpson, backed by Mrs Johnson, the former prime minister’s wife, for the Government to keep him in prison.
Brown, a former British Airways pilot, admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility after bludgeoning Simpson with a claw hammer as their children cowered inside their home.
Her family argue that he remains a danger to the public and should have been convicted of murder after meticulously planning the killing of his wife.
He drove to her home in Ascot, Berkshire, armed with the hammer and bludgeoned her at least 14 times, before wrapping her body in plastic sheeting and burying it in a grave he had previously dug in woodland in Windsor Great Park.
He was charged with murder and prosecutors argued the killing was a premeditated attack, but Brown said he had been suffering from “severe stress” and “abnormality of mental function” which had impaired his self-control.
Announcing his decision, Mr Chalk said: “Joanna Simpson was bludgeoned and buried at the hands of Robert Brown, which left two children without a mother and caused irreparable harm to her family and loved ones.
“I made a commitment to Joanna’s family that I would give this case my closest personal attention. Having reviewed all the information available to me, I have blocked Brown’s automatic release and referred this case to the Parole Board using powers we introduced to protect the public from the most dangerous offenders.”
Diana Parkes, Simpson’s mother, said: “I am delighted that Alex Chalk has blocked Robert Brown‘s automatic release and is referring the decision to the parole board. Having to continuously relive my daughter’s brutal killing is emotionally exhausting.
“We hope that the Parole Board will appreciate how dangerous Robert Brown is and we fear for the safety of our family, Jo’s friends and any female he may form a relationship with in the future. We would urge them to keep him in jail.”
The power to block an automatic release halfway through a sentence was introduced in the Government’s 2022 courts and sentencing bill. It was originally designed to enable ministers to lengthen the sentences of criminals who had become a threat through being radicalised into potential terrorists in jail.
The family and media will be able to apply for Brown’s parole board hearing to be held in public. It is expected to take the board between six and nine months to review the case.
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