Prisoners welcome ruling as a key to cell doors

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The Independent Online
Andrew Evans, convicted of the murder of a 14-year-old girl when he was only 17, welcomed the ruling by human rights judges.

Now 40, he has been detained at Her Majesty's pleasure since 1973, frustrated by the present system under which the Home Secretary has intervened in his case seven times: efforts to seek a release, or a transfer to an open prison, have been refused. In June 1992, the parole board recommended his sentence be reviewed, satisfied he no longer posed a risk to the public, but the Home Office vetoed it. Under the present system, he was not allowed to make a personal appearance. Evans, who maintains his innocence, is represented by Justice, the all-party human rights group which brought the test challenge to the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Another man, sentenced to indeterminate imprisonment for murder when he was 17,hoped that the verdict may lead to his own release. At 32, he has already served five years on top of his tariff of eight, set in 1982. His solicitor, Simon Creighton, who is working on eight other such cases for the Prisoners' Advice Service, said: ``He hopes he will now be able to respond in person to allegations ... which have so far hampered his plight.''

There are 230 other similar cases which could come under review following the adjudication, including those of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both 11 when convicted in 1993 of the toddler Jamie Bulger's murder. The two boys have had their recommended eight-year sentences increased to fifteen by the Home Secretary.