Harry Roberts released: Man convicted of shooting dead three unarmed police officers walks free from prison

Roberts was given three life sentences for the murders and a 30 year minimum tariff which expired 18 years ago

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The Independent Online

Harry Roberts, one of Britain’s most notorious murderers who was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting of three unarmed police officers in 1966, has been released from prison.

The 78-year-old was released from Littlehey prison in Cambridgeshire on Monday night.

PC Geoffrey Fox, 41, Sergeant Christopher Head, 30, and Detective Constable David Wombwell, 25, were shot when they went to investigate Roberts' van in London’s Shepherd's Bush in what became known as the massacre of Braybrook Street.

Roberts was given three life sentences for the murders and a 30 year minimum tariff which expired 18 years ago. He would have faced the death penalty but it was abolished eight months prior to his sentence.

Passing sentence at the time Mr Justice Glyn-Jones described the murders as “the most heinous crime for a generation or more”, adding: “I think it likely that no Home Secretary will ever think fit to show mercy by releasing you on licence. This is one of those cases in which the sentence of imprisonment for life may well be treated as meaning exactly what it says.”

The decision to initiate his release comes after a decision by the Independent Parole Board that the Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted is beyond the control of the government. She has stressed that the law is being reviewed to ensure that future police killers will remain behind bars for the rest of their lives.

In an interview with the Radio Times, conducted in 2008 but published recently, Roberts said he wanted to “try to make something of the last few years” of his life, as he admitted he regretted the murders. He is expected to move into a probation hostel and eventually into sheltered accommodation. Criminal justice experts have suggested that he may use an assumed name to hide his identity. A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Offenders on life sentences are subject to strict controls for as long as their risk requires them. If they fail to comply with these conditions they can be immediately returned to prison.

“Offenders managed through multi-agency public protection arrangements are monitored and supervised by probation, police and other agencies.”