Probation service slammed after free double killer murders again

Damning questions for probation service as convicted killer is given whole life order for beating neighbour to death: Judge condemns ‘significant mistakes’ after killer was housed next to vulnerable elderly woman while on licence

The Probation Service is facing damning questions over why a convicted double killer was housed next to a vulnerable elderly woman who he went on to beat to death with a wooden coffee table.

Dangerous Lawrence Bierton will die behind bars after he was handed a whole life term today for the brutal murder of neighbour Pauline Quinn, 73.

Bierton, 63, an alcoholic, had drunk rum and vodka and was high on crack cocaine and Subutex – an opioid – when he murdered Mrs Quinn at her sheltered accommodation bungalow in Worksop, Notts. when she refused to give him money for booze.

At the time of the killing, he was on licence, after being jailed for life in 1996 for murdering sisters Aileen Dudill, 79, and Elsie Gregory, 72, at their home in Rotherham.

He had been moved to Rayton Spur, a complex for elderly and vulnerable people by authorities – a move described as a ‘significant mistake’ by the judge.

Lawrence Bierton murdered his neighbour, Pauline Quinn, 73 (pictured) in November 2021

Bierton, 63, was on licence at the time of the offence having been released from a life sentence for the murders of two elderly sisters in the 1990s

Brendan Clarke-Smith, Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, Notts, is now calling for a full public inquiry into the events leading up to Mrs Quinn’s death after it emerged those living and working nearby were not told about his past.

Bierton had also been fitted with an alcohol tag as part of the terms of his release from prison but it had been removed and not replaced after he complained it was hurting him.

Mrs Quinn’s brother, Peter Gould, 72, said: ‘We just want to know what happened. We deserve an explanation. He killed two women, he spent 20 plus years in prison, and then, when he came out, they put him in a house next to my sister.’

Mr Clarke-Smith said there had been ‘clear failings on multiple levels.’

READ MORE: Probation service will review case of double killer who battered his 73-year-old neighbour to death with a coffee table while he was out on licence for murdering two elderly sisters in the 1990s

‘To house a convicted double killer in an area with elderly and vulnerable residents is more than just negligent – it is unforgivable,’ he added.

Handing Bierton a whole-life order at Nottingham Crown Court, the first to be issued at the court since 2005, Mr Justice Pepperall said: ‘I am left in no doubt whatsoever that you must never again be given the opportunity to walk the streets again… you should not have been housed among elderly and vulnerable residents. Ms Quinn was entitled to expect better, and the system plainly failed her.’

Prosecutor John Cammegh KC said Mrs Quinn’s ‘sustained and merciless’ murder bore ‘striking similarities’ to his Bierton’s earlier killings.

He was 37 when he beat and murdered the two elderly sisters. One was bludgeoned to death with a hammer-like weapon and the other was struck with a flat iron and suffocated with a cushion after they found Bierton and accomplice Michael Pluck stealing from their semi-detached home.

In a crime that shocked the nation, Bierton and Pluck, also 37, then piled furniture on the women’s bodies and tried to burn down the house to cover their tracks.

The horrific murders of the two well-liked sisters sparked a massive police hunt. The two men, both from Worksop, Notts, were later tracked down after it was discovered they had done gardening work at the house.

Pluck and Bierton had been preying on pensioners by charging extortionate fees for gardens. They were handed life sentences in 1996. Bierton was released from prison on licence in December 2017 before being recalled in July 2018 after repeated failures to address his alcohol and drug misuse.

He was released again in May 2020 to an ‘approved premises’ with a tag to detect alcohol use but following concerns about his association people there he left and in November 2020 was offered a bungalow in Rayton Spur, Worksop, Notts – next door to Mrs Quinn.

Mrs Quinn was found dead in her bungalow in Rayton Spur, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, on November 9 2021

The ‘alcohol tag’ was removed in March after Bierton complained of swelling in his leg. Mrs Quinn was found dead eight months later, on November 9, 2021.

She had suffered 29 separate injuries, including 12 on her head and several on her left arm and hand which prosecutors say were consistent with efforts to defend herself.

Mrs Quinn, a mother of three, had lived alone with her dog Charlie in the one-bedroom bungalow which was fitted with an alarm linked to a home security monitoring service. She suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had injured her back around four months before she was killed.

She was last seen on CCTV footage just before 1pm on November 9 walking back to her home with her dog using a walking stick after visiting the shops, having left her car parked outside her property.

READ MORE: Double-killer, 63, freed from prison on licence beat his neighbour, 73, to death with her wooden coffee table before breaking it up and driving off with it in her car, court told

She managed to pull the emergency cord in her accommodation during the attack, which recorded audio of Bierton repeatedly striking her with the coffee table. After killing her, he returned to the property to break up the table so he could take it away in a plastic bag before fleeing in Mrs Quinn’s Renault Clio.

Mrs Quinn’s daughter, Lisa Rummery, described him as a ‘monster’.

‘He stole her life and ruined ours in the process,’ she said in a victim impact statement.

The Probation Service had been asked to explain why Bierton was moved to Rayton Spur. East Midlands Ambulance Service was also asked to account for why it took nearly six hours to reach Mrs Quinn after she activated the alarm at her home.

The Probabtion Service said a full review of the case has been completed and shared with Mrs Quinn’s family but the findings would not be released publicly.

Saika Jabeen, head of the Nottinghamshire county probation delivery unit, told the court the decision to house Beirton there was ‘incorrect’ and there had been ‘serious oversights’ in the case.

Bierton admitted killing Mrs Quinn but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming diminished responsibility due to alcohol dependency syndrome, which his barristers claimed formed a ‘mental abnormality’.

But prosecutors said the violent manner of Mrs Quinn’s death ‘leaves no room for doubt that he intended to kill her’.

Jurors took less than an hour to unanimously convict him of murder earlier this month after a two-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.

It comes after it emerged a charity was urged to help him but also not told about his past.

Steve Williams, Oasis centre manager and church pastor, said they were urged to support Bierton on his release from prison by the council at his home in Rayton Spur – but were not given any information of his previous conviction.

Bierton will be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court next Wednesday (file photo)

Mr Williams said: ‘We, like everyone else, just assumed he was an elderly man that was no danger to the community and was subsequently released – we weren’t given any information.

‘Why was someone known to be a murderer allowed to be placed in such an area with vulnerable people?

Prosecutor John Cammegh KC said on Wednesday that Ms Quinn’s ‘sustained and merciless’ murder bore ‘striking similarities’ to that of Ms Dudill and Ms Gregory.

He submitted that the earlier murders ‘illustrated the defendant’s propensity to inflict brutal and extreme violence upon vulnerable and elderly women’ and that ‘the savage murder of Pauline Quinn merits a whole life order’.

Addressing Bierton, Mr Justice Pepperall said: ‘I am satisfied so that I am sure that you used severe force, lifting your weapon high above your head, repeatedly smashing it into Ms Quinn’s skull with as much force as you could muster.

‘There is no doubt on the evidence that you intended to kill your victim.

‘You callously considered the need and location for further blows in order to ensure that your victim was dead.’

Bierton accepted being responsible for the killing but had denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, owing to his alcohol dependency.

His barristers claimed this constituted a ‘mental abnormality’ which would have caused alcohol withdrawal symptoms and thus have prevented him from thinking rationally.

But he was seen calmly driving away in Ms Quinn’s car after the murder, later returning to the scene to remove the remnants of the bloodstained coffee table in a plastic bag.

On Wednesday, his barrister, Mark McKone KC, said that Bierton wished to become a teacher in prison.

He said: ‘He recognises the impact his offending has had on many people.

‘He knows he can’t in any way compensate for what he has done but wants to spend the remainder of his life doing some good.’

Bierton sat silently throughout the hearing and showed no emotion as he was taken down.

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