Man who murdered parents awarded Falklands medal

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Roderick Newall, the former Army officer serving a life sentence for the murder of his parents, has become embroiled in a row in the Falkland Islands, over a decision to honour him for his athletic prowess.

Newall made many friends in the Falklands when he briefly settled on the South Atlantic outpost after using his dead parents' money to sail around the world.

His outgoing personality made him popular in Port Stanley and he was willing to run errands in his yacht, delivering Christmas parcels to isolated farmsteads and helping out during the sheep-shearing season.

In 1991, four years after he had killed his parents at the family home in Jersey and buried their bodies in a shallow grave, he surprised the Falkland Islanders by winning their annual running race. The mile-long contest, which takes place at Pebble Island on West Falkland, is part of a week-long sporting festival which also includes traditional island contests in sheep-shearing and horse-racing.

Patrick Watts, who organises the event, said Newall had not even bothered to change into running kit before beating off competition from 20 runners.

This month Mr Watts, who is head of broadcasting for the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Service, decided to present Newall with his winning medal in a special visit to La Moye prison on Jersey, where the killer is serving his sentence.

He said he had not had a chance to present Newall with the medal before he was arrested by the Navy while sailing his yacht, and later jailed for life His brother, Mark, received a six-year sentence for helping to dispose of the bodies.

"There are quite a lot of [Falkland Islanders] who remember Rod and think a lot of him," he said. "After he was arrested, they said 'as far as we are concerned he was a friend to us and will always remain our friend'."

But others disagree. One islander said: "It has caused a lot of anger. Astonishment, actually. Newall is a disgusting person who killed his parents for money and personally I think that giving him a medal is absolutely outrageous."

Andrew Gurr, chief executive of the Falkland Islands, said: "People felt that because what he had done was so bad, he didn't merit the presentation of a medal, even though he had earned it."