Strictly star Katie Piper's acid attacker to be released from prison after nine years

'This is a really difficult time for me,' says TV presenter after hearing Parole Board's decision

Peter Stubley
Friday 24 August 2018 13:34
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Strictly Come Dancing: Katie Piper announced as contestant on the show

The acid attacker who left TV presenter Katie Piper permanently scarred is to be released from prison.

Stefan Sylvestre, now 30, was given a life sentence in 2009 and told he must serve at least six years behind bars for carrying out the attack on the orders of her ex-boyfriend.

The Parole Board has now decided that Sylvestre no longer poses a significant risk to the public despite hearing a personal plea from Ms Piper, who is appearing on this year's Strictly Come Dancing competition.

Ms Piper said in a statement on Twitter: "This is a really difficult time for me. I am trying to come to terms with the decision and this is something I need to deal with.

"Over the past two weeks Strictly has already given me such a welcome and positive distraction from my past.

"Whilst there is never a good time to hear this news, I am glad I have this new journey to concentrate on. Thank you for your continued support. I really appreciate it."

The Parole Board confirmed a panel had directed Sylvestre's release after hearing details of the original case and from Ms Piper.

"Parole Board decisions are solely focused on whether a prisoner would represent a significant risk to the public after release," said a spokesman.

"The panel will have carefully looked at a whole range of evidence, including details of the original evidence and any evidence of behaviour change.

"We do that with great care and public safety is our number one priority."

Sylvestre became eligible to be considered for release on 8 April 2014 and had a previous review by the Parole Board in 2015.

The summary of the decision read: "The panel considered that there were a number of things that reduced Sylvestre's risk of causing serious harm in the future.

"Sylvestre is now 30 years of age and was just 19 when he committed the index offence. He was drawn into a criminal lifestyle in his teens and was involved with drugs.

"During his time in custody, Sylvestre has actively avoided anti-social behaviour within the prison and has avoided violence, despite being under threat.

"He has behaved well to distance himself from such influences. "He has repaired his relationship with his family, has gained employment-related skills and improved his education.

"He has not been involved in drugs in prison and has completed relevant offence-focused work to challenge and change his attitude and thinking."

A forensic psychologist told the panel that Sylvestre's improved relationship with his family and his plans for the future were among the factors preventing him from returning to offending and a criminal lifestyle.

"Sylvestre displayed empathy for the victim and expressed remorse and shame for his actions," the summary added.

Ms Piper was left fighting for her life after ex-boyfriend Daniel Lynch arranged for Sylvestre to throw the corrosive liquid in March 2008.

She had briefly dated Lynch, who had a previous conviction for pouring boiling water over a man, before he became obsessively jealous.

Lynch was jailed for life with a minimum of 16 years for sexually assaulting Ms Piper and telling Sylvestre to throw acid over her.

During their sentencing Lynch and Sylvestre were told by Judge Nicholas Browne QC they were "the face of pure evil".

Ms Piper, a 34-year-old presenter and former model, is best known for sharing her story about surviving the attack in the documentary, Katie: My Beautiful Face.

She was announced as a Strictly Come Dancing contestant earlier this month.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Our heartfelt sympathies are with Katie Piper for the ordeal she has suffered.

"Acid attacks are abhorrent and those convicted can face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

"The release of indeterminate sentenced prisoners is a matter for the independent Parole Board, which carries out a full risk assessment before making a decision.

"Public protection is our priority and while we understand public concern, it is vital that we respect the independence of the Parole Board.

"That is why we are carrying out a full review of the Parole Board rules, which will build on the work we have already done to increase transparency and ensure victims are supported."

Additional reporting by PA

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