Leeds man's killer will 'not be released early' but could go to open prison

The sadistic murderer of a '˜gentle giant' from Leeds will not be considered for early release, the Parole Board has said.

Ian Webster, left, was killed by Richard Cheney in June 2002.

Loved ones of 31-year-old cinema worker Ian Webster spoke earlier about their dismay after they learned there would soon be a hearing in relation to killer Richard Cheney.

The 33-year-old from Stanningley was convicted and jailed for life in 2003, with judges later ruling that he must remain behind bars for at least 19 years.

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Following a visit from probation officers last week, Ian’s family were left believing Cheney could be granted his freedom after serving just 14 years.

The Parole Board does not usually discuss individual cases, but a spokesman yestersy said that the upcoming hearing would only consider whether Cheney was suitable for transfer to an open prison.

A move to an open prison can be considered when an offender has less than three years of their minimum tariff to serve, which in Cheney's case could be summer 2018 due to time spent in custody awaiting trial.

The spokesman said: “We can confirm that a pre-tariff parole review has been referred to the Parole Board for Mr Richard Cheney.

In a pre-tariff review, the Parole Board can only consider the suitability for the progression of a prisoner to open conditions and cannot direct release.

"We are unable to comment further on the specifics of this case.”

Ian’s uncle, Stephen Poskitt, said the family would be opposing any move to a lower security facility and taking the opportunity to write to the board ahead of the hearing.

“To us, as a family, he’s committed an horrific crime,” Mr Poskitt said. “Why should he go to an open prison and a comparative life of luxury?”

During his trial, jurors heard how Cheney had picked his victim at random after going out with a ‘killing kit’.

The court heard he lured Mr Webster, a fellow gay man, to a secluded area in Leeds in June 2002. He hit him over the head with an axe, strangled him and dumped his body in the river.

The Parole Board has come under fire recently over its decision to free serial rapist John Worboys – thought to be Britain’s most prolific sex attacker – after he had served just 10 years.

A government review of the Parole Board has been announced in response, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying that she was determined to bring greater openness to the decision-making process and restore confidence in the system.