To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement as to the circumstances in which Private Thain was released from prison after serving three years of a life sentence for murder;(2) how many prisoners convicted since 1979 of murder and serving life sentences have been released within three years or less.
Private Thain was released on life licence in February 1987 after three and a half years' detention (including time spent in custody before his trial). His case was dealt with under the normal procedures for considering the release of life sentence prisoners. The date of the first formal review by the Parole Board machinery was fixed after consultation with the judiciary on the requirements of retribution and deterrence for the offence in accordance with the revised arrangements announced in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates) on 30 November 1983, at columns 505–7, and Private Thain's release was subsquently authorised following a favourable recommendation by the Parole Board.
One other prisoner convicted of murder since 1979 has been released on life licence after three and a half years or less (including time spent in custody before trial). He was convicted at the age of 15.