By Jess Grieveson-Smith
A brave widow has launched a petition to keep her husband’s killer away from their family home – after he was rehoused just TWO MILES down the road.
Helen Hill, 45, was devastated when her husband, David Irwin, 30, was brutally murdered by Stuart Pickett – a stranger to the family – in December 2002 after the thug broke after almost every bone in his face in a vicious attack.
Murderer Pickett, now 32, was released from prison ‘on good behaviour’ in 2013 after serving 10 years of his life sentence for the brutal murder.
But Helen claims he is now set to have his ‘lifelong’ supervision order lifted by the Probation Service in February – meaning he’ll no longer be monitored by police in any way.
Helen, from Hale Village, Widnes, claims her home address with daughter Mollie, 21, is now less than 10 minutes from where Pickett lives.
The family are distraught at the prospect of Pickett being spotted by relatives in their town and are pleading with the Ministry of Justice to stop his monitoring from being lifted next month – with their petition having already racked up 10,000 signatures.
Helen, a trustee of the Support After Murder Merseyside group, said: “When David was murdered our whole lives stood still.
“Pickett had launched a vicious attack following a sportsman’s dinner and drinks.
“I was told by our victim liaison officer that Pickett was going to be released in 2013 and that it was important for him to be with his family which is the same neighbourhood as ours.
“I was devastated, what about our family? We were initially told that he can’t come into specific areas of Widnes, where we shop, where we have relatives yet the town is constantly developed and his restrictions no longer apply.
“He can travel the same roads.
“He can go through to the whole of Liverpool.
“Mollie studies in Liverpool now and I get so frightened for her.
“Because of him and this, she doesn’t have the normal life of a girl her age.
“She doesn’t know what he looks like but you begin to imagine him being there – her father’s murderer.
“There’s so much fear.”
Helen’s petition calls for a change the law so full supervision for murderers remains for the rest of their lives.
The heartbroken mum-of-one was forced to lie to her daughter Mollie, then five, telling the little girl her dad had a ‘bad bump on the head’ as she didn’t want to break the news after he was murdered before Christmas day in 2002.
Helen, who has since re-married, claims she has lived in constant fear after Pickett’s release in 2013.
Yet with his supervision set to be lifted in February, Helen fears the man who stole her daughter’s father from her will no longer be monitored, and could stray even closer to them.
Helen added: “I would like to think he’s been rehabilitated but he’s still a murderer in my eyes.
“His attack on David was so frenzied that I didn’t even recognise my own husband in hospital.
“I had to identify him by his distinguishing feature – an Everton tattoo.
“Almost every bone in his face was broken.
“When I received the phone call to tell me Pickett’s supervision could be lifted, I knew I had to do something.
“It’ll mean he no longer has to report to his probation officer – he’d have to be caught doing something.
“But he’s not just any criminal.
“He’s a murderer, and such a massive risk that shouldn’t be taken.”
Pickett was initially sentenced at Chester Crown Court, Cheshire, where a jury found him guilty of murder after a week-long trial.
Helen said: “The entire trial was a blur.
“All I can really remember is him punching the walls when his sentence was given, and the playback of the 999 call at my home.
“All I could hear was him punching and kicking my husband with so much aggression and violence.
“Now, I have to live in constant fear that we could bump into him.
“My mum and dad are buried in Widnes, and I get so anxious – does he visit the cemetery? Does he have someone buried there too?
“I’ll always carry the anxiety now.
“I’d have moved but Mollie has a life with her friends and family from David’s side here.
“But it’ll never be a normal life – it’ll always be there.”
The Probation Service said the suspension of supervision requirements has no aspect on any of the other terms of a life licence, such as restrictions preventing them from contacting victims or visiting particular areas.
A spokesman for the Probation Service said: “Prisoners released on life licence can be recalled to custody at any time if they reoffend or if it is necessary to protect the public.
“They may have their supervision requirements suspended after a minimum of four years if they are able to meet a strict set of criteria.
“It is for the independent Parole Board to decide whether to suspend the supervision requirements, and an application will be made only after the offender has displayed continued good behaviour in the community.”