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Family of 27-year-old woman stabbed to death left ‘stunned’ that killer could be released NEXT YEAR

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Family of 27-year-old woman stabbed to death by ‘most-dangerous man’ in 1997 are left ‘stunned’ that he could be released NEXT YEAR despite judge saying he should NEVER be freed

  • Nicholas Burton was convicted of stabbing Rachel McGrath  to death in 1997 
  • He then kidnapped a 17-year-old girl and subjected her to an 11-hour ordeal  
  • Burton was given three life sentences in 1998 but could be released next year
  • Judge Mr Justice Morland recommended no one should ever allow his release
  • Psychiatrist described Burton as one of the most dangerous men she ever met










The family of a 27-year-old woman who was stabbed to death have been left ‘stunned’ that her killer could be eligible for release as early as next year. 

Nicholas Burton was convicted of the murder of Rachel McGrath whom he knifed as she called to collect her boyfriend from a pub car park in Bramhall, Cheshire, in 1997.

A few hours later, Burton kidnapped a 17-year-old girl as she stopped at a newsagents on her way to work and subjected her to a terrifying 11-hour ordeal in which she was forced to drive to Wales.

He threatened to kill her, and later told a court he had intended to rape and murder her.

It is understood Burton could be eligible for a Parole Board hearing once his 25-year minimum tariff comes to an end next May, subject to him meeting certain criteria.

Nicholas Burton was convicted of the murder of Rachel McGrath (pictured) whom he knifed as she called to collect her boyfriend from a pub car park in Bramhall, Cheshire, in 1997

Nicholas Burton was convicted of the murder of Rachel McGrath (pictured) whom he knifed as she called to collect her boyfriend from a pub car park in Bramhall, Cheshire, in 1997

Such a hearing would be required to determine any release. It is understood Burton would be expected to be subject to strict licensing conditions should he ever be released.

But Ms McGrath’s family are furious at the possibility he could walk free, pointing out the trial judge Mr Justice Morland recommended no home secretary should ever allow his release.

Justice Morland told Liverpool Crown Court that a psychiatrist had described Burton as one of the most dangerous men she had ever come across in her career.

The victim’s brother Michael McGrath compared the case to that of Colin Pitchfork, who murdered two teenage girls in the 1980s.

The decision to release Pitchfork from prison earlier this month provoked a national outcry.

A few hours later, Burton (pictured) kidnapped a 17-year-old girl as she stopped at a newsagents on her way to work and subjected her to a terrifying 11-hour ordeal in which she was forced to drive to Wales

A few hours later, Burton (pictured) kidnapped a 17-year-old girl as she stopped at a newsagents on her way to work and subjected her to a terrifying 11-hour ordeal in which she was forced to drive to Wales

Mr McGrath, said: ‘At the trial in 1998, Nicholas Burton was found guilty by the jury in under an hour.

‘He was given three life sentences by Mr Justice Morland, who made a recommendation to the home secretary at the time that he should never be released.

‘Here we are, 23 years later stunned to find out that he is due to be released next year.’

He continued: ‘We simply don’t know how this situation has occurred, especially in light of the very clear recommendations given by the trial judge.

‘The situation is outrageous and has echoes of the recent Colin Pitchfork case.’

Mr McGrath said the family welcomed an offer by justice minister Alex Chalk to meet with them to discuss the case.

Justice Morland told Liverpool Crown Court that a psychiatrist had described Burton as one of the most dangerous men she had ever come across in her career. Pictured: Rachel McGrath

Justice Morland told Liverpool Crown Court that a psychiatrist had described Burton as one of the most dangerous men she had ever come across in her career. Pictured: Rachel McGrath

But he added: ‘Needless to say, our family has been devastated by the loss of Rachel and this latest twist has merely added insult to incalculable injury.’

Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts said the parents of Ms McGrath – her constituents – have been told Burton ‘would walk free next year’.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Saville Roberts, the MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said: ‘Rachel’s elderly parents were recently told that Burton would walk free next year.

‘They haven’t even been able to make a victim statement and believe the correct procedure has not been followed.’

Mr Chalk said he the Commons he would be ‘delighted’ to meet Ms McGrath’s family, adding victims must be participants rather than spectators in such matters.

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