Family’s fear as killer who murdered their father released on licence: ‘Life should mean life’

Rikki Stewart, dubbed the Dumfries Killer, was sentenced to life imprisonment in August 2004

Tom Campbell
Wednesday 10 April 2024 09:54 BST
Philip and his wife, Gina, who is now 73
Philip and his wife, Gina, who is now 73 (PA)

The family of a man who was murdered by a killer and rapist on the run have said his release from prison is “dangerous”, warning that “he will offend again” as they petition for him to remain behind bars.

Philip Haselip, a 52-year-old musician, was bludgeoned and stabbed to death by Rikki Stewart, now 48, who they later discovered was wanted for killing Donald Nicholson in September 2001 and raping a 53-year-old grandmother in August 2003.

Stewart, dubbed the Dumfries Killer, was sentenced to life imprisonment in August 2004 for Philip’s murder, and later given an additional 12 years for killing Mr Nicholson and 10 years for rape after pleading guilty to all three crimes.

While serving his sentence, Stewart was denied parole seven times, but the family have now been told that he has been released without a GPS tag on temporary licence, which means he can leave his undisclosed minimum security open prison where he is being held for fixed periods of time.

Philip’s daughter Lynette Haselip, 39, said the Government has “made a huge mistake” after she received the devastating news over email three weeks ago, and has now launched a petition to keep him locked up for good.

“I don’t think he ever can change,” she said.

“He killed my dad when he was on the run from the other murder and the rape.

“So we’ve been let down continuously right from the start, not just now.”

Philip, known as Mick to family and friends, was found wrapped in a duvet in the laundry room of his home in Finland Way on the Danesholme estate in Corby, North Northamptonshire, on November 18, 2003 after being bludgeoned about the head with a roll of wallpaper and stabbed three times in the chest.

His identical twin brother Tony, 72, Lynette’s uncle, said: “How many murders do you need to commit before you’re given a real life sentence?”

“It’s not a life sentence, is it? His recommended serve ended up being nine years.

“When a bank robber gets a minimum term of 30 years, how come a double murderer and rapist gets a recommended minimum term of less than nine years? It just beggars belief.

“Life should mean life – he should never have been let out.”

Lynette Haselip, 39, who has launched a petition demanding that her father’s murderer Rikki Stewart never to be released from prison (PA)

In the days leading up to her father’s murder, Lynette, who was 19 at the time, recalls visiting his studio apartment.

“I was very close with my dad,” she said.

“Rikki Stewart actually answered the door to me when I knocked and he let me in.

“I asked him who he was and he said he was just there to have a drink with my dad.”

Lynette asked her father if he wanted anything from the shop but he declined, saying that they would see each other that weekend.

“That was the last time I saw my dad,” she said.

Lynette returned to the property every day for the next three days but there was no answer.

She received a strange text message on the Tuesday, November 2003 from her father’s phone.

“The text message said ‘How are you?’, but it wasn’t how my dad would normally message,” Lynette said.

She went round after work later that day and noticed the front door had been bolted shut from the inside and sounded the alarm.

“The door wasn’t right when I was knocking on it,” she said.

“I tried the handle and I could see it was locked from the inside with a bolt, and I couldn’t see in the windows”.

Her brother, Christopher, then visited the property and bumped into Stewart as he was leaving – who told him: “Your dad’s inside.”

Tony Haselip, 72, whose identical twin brother Philip was murdered by Rikki Stewart in November, 2003 (PA)

That’s when Phillip’s body was found – he had been stabbed and bludgeoned to death by Stewart.

“The rest is a bit of a blur for me after that point,” Lynette said.

Stewart, then 28, pleaded guilty to murdering Philip at Northampton Crown Court in August 2004 for which he was given a mandatory life sentence and told that he must serve a minimum of eight years three months and four days in prison before being eligible for parole.

The pair had met two months earlier in a homeless persons hostel in Corby, it was revealed during the trial.

They had a “heavy drinking session” at Philip’s bedsit over the weekend, with Judge Charles Wide QC concluding that: “The killing, the murder in this case, is entirely inexplicable other than as an alcohol fuelled expression of some apparent rage.”

It was later revealed that at the time of Philip’s murder, Stewart, described as a homeless alcoholic, had in fact been on the run for other crimes he committed in Scotland.

He pleaded guilty to the rape and assault of a 53-year-old grandmother at a family party in Dumfries, Scotland, the BBC reported at the time, for which he received a concurrent ten year jail sentence on July 1, 2005.

He also confessed to killing his mother’s boyfriend, Donald Nicholson on September 11, 2001, after being charged with culpable homicide, for which he received an extended sentence of 12 years behind bars and five years on extended licence.

Since 2012, the double killer and rapist has applied for parole seven times but always been refused.

In 2022, a panel again concluded that Stewart was not suitable for release.

The report lists risk factors from the time of his offence, including a “willingness to use weapons, use of extreme violence with no or little provocation, loss of control and recollection after consuming alcohol, poor anger and emotional control, impulsivity and unstable lifestyle linked to substance abuse”.

In relation to his rape conviction, the report also refers to Stewart “thinking he had a right to have sex as and when he wanted, preferring sex to include violence or controlling behaviour, negative attitudes towards women and not caring about the effects of his actions on other people”.

It also states the risk of Stuart reoffending had been reduced due to his “positive engagement” with a psychologist, “good work ethic” and stable behaviour in open conditions with “no evidence of impulsivity or irresponsibility”.

Stuart, then 46, undertook an “accredited programme to address sexual behaviour” as well as a “training course about better ways of thinking and decision making”, the report states.

Three weeks ago however, Lynette and Tony were told via email that Stewart has now been released on temporary licence ahead of his next parole hearing which is scheduled to take place on April 29, 2024.

Since 2019, prison governors have been given greater autonomy to release prisoners on temporary licence.

“To date he has had seven parole board meetings and on every occasion they’ve not recommended him as suitable for release,” said Tony.

Lynette, who has two children aged 13 and 10, who she does not wish to name for security reasons, added: “The Ministry of Justice has made a huge mistake.

“I’m disappointed. You think people will make the right decisions to protect the public.

“I never thought I would have to explain what happened to my children, let alone the fact that he’s out.”

Lynette was 19 when her father Philip was murdered (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA)

The family have said that they feel “failed” by the justice system and now fear for their safety as they have been told that Stuart “is not currently subject to GPS tagging when he is allowed out on temporary release”.

“The whole family are shocked that it can happen,” said Lynette.

“He’s never shown any remorse for what he’s done.

“It’s just not acceptable, it’s dangerous and he will offend again, I’m absolutely certain of that.”

The family are calling for him to be back behind bars for the rest of his life and are desperate for the public to be aware of the crimes he has committed, insisting that he is “dangerous”.

They launched a petition on on April 3, 2024, which has so far garnered more than 500 signatures.

“Staying silent wasn’t an option,” said Tony.

Lynette, who said she has no words for her father’s killer, said: “My dad was an incredibly talented musician.

“I’ve always been a daddy’s girl (and) he was just loving.

“Growing up, I never heard a bad thing said about my dad – he was just a lovely man.”

The family feel Stewart “has never shown any remorse” and said they will “never know what went on” the day Philip was murdered.

“He will always have that over us,” Lynette said, with her uncle adding: “We’ve got the life sentence.”

The petition can be found at:

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Rikki Stewart’s crimes were horrific and our thoughts remain with his victims’ families and friends.

“Prisoners only go on day release after being carefully risk-assessed, must abide by strict rules and face extra time behind bars if they don’t comply.”

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