Australia to deport mass killer to UK

'Mad Dog' McCafferty vowed to kill seven people in all. Now he is coming home, reports Kay Smith
Click to follow
The Independent Online
A Glasgow born multiple murderer who has spent 24 years in prison in Australia is soon to be released on parole and deported to Britain. Back in this country Archie "Mad Dog" McCafferty, 49, who slaughtered four people following the accidental death of his baby son in 1973, will be a free man.

There is no provision in law for his supervision. And the realisation that he will not have the support normally given serious ex-offenders - because of a lack of parole arrangements between the countries - has alarmed city council officials, the police and forensic psychiatrists. The city's deputy director of social work described his deportation as "dangerous and damaging".

Concern grew after officials learnt of McCafferty's claim that a vision of his dead son, urging him to take revenge by killing seven people in all, had motivated his crimes. A council spokesman said: "The fact McCafferty has killed four people, and promised to kill seven, has to be taken seriously. It would be totally irresponsible for us not to prepare." Ian Johnston, Scottish secretary of the British Association of Social Workers, warned: "There's a clear need for a supervisor to be involved."

McCafferty, who is in a medium-to-high security Sydney prison, is expected to be granted parole after a public hearing held by the New South Wales Parole Board on 18 April. He will then briefly return to prison.

The Australian government intends to deport him as soon as possible in line with its immigration policy on serious ex-offenders who are not Australian citizens. Because of an earlier offence, McCafferty never qualified for a passport.

McCafferty, a gang leader, began his killings after his six-week-old son was accidentally suffocated while being breast-fed. Grieving for his child and under the influence of hard drugs, McCafferty later visited the boy's grave, where he claimed a voice told him that the child would come back to life if he killed seven people. Over the following three nights he and his young followers murdered three men, including a father of seven. They were arrested the next night as they set out to kill McCafferty's wife and in-laws.

In prison he continued to be obsessed by the number seven, brushing his teeth seven times, flushing the toilet seven times, and arranging to have the number seven tattooed on his body. He also wrote his autobiography entitled, Shall Seven Die?, and murdered a fourth person.

McCafferty has tenuous family connections in Sighthill, a deprived area of high-rise flats north of Glasgow. Offers of accommodation for him there would be resisted, says local Labour councillor Paul Martin. "I'm clear I don't want him rehoused in my ward," he said.

In Scotland, parole supervision is provided by local authority social work departments. Mr Johnston explained: "Anyone sentenced to life imprisonment for murder is subject to parole for the rest of their life. Any cause for concern would be looked at and be subject to the possibility of recall to prison." The Glasgow authorities cannot initiate approaches to McCafferty. The onus would be on him to "ask for advice and support".

The New South Wales Parole Board initially granted McCafferty parole in February, and plans for the public hearing were made more than two weeks ago when it was known there had been a submission - from a relative of one of the killer's victims - opposing his release. But Graham Egan, secretary of the New South Wales Parole Board, said: "These statements don't usually change the Board's mind. It is a common experience that victims or their relatives are distressed at the prospect of a release.

"This is a fairly conservative Board and it has decided Mr McCafferty is suitable for release. He has expressed remorse for his crimes. He is older and apparently wiser. The sort of disturbances that had led to his crimes are no longer evident."

According to Kerry Mumford, head of the media unit for the Department of Correctional Services for New South Wales, McCafferty will be a reluctant traveller. "He has been in Australia for the greater part of his life, his family and his contacts are here. By all accounts he will not be happy about going back to Scotland."

According to Tony Brett Young, public affairs manager of the Australian High Commission in London, the British government was made aware of McCafferty's deportation order when it was issued in 1991, and when it was updated on his annual parole board reviews. "This is not something new. We have been discussing this case with the British government for a number of years now," Mr Brett Young emphasised.

The British government is now seeking an amendment to a new Council of Europe convention on the transfer of sentenced people that would allow some control over deported ex-offenders. The convention is not due to come in force, however, before the end of this year - too late to affect McCafferty's arrival in the UK.