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Camden Ripper 'should never be released from prison'

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Camden Ripper 'should never be released from prison'

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Communities

Camden Ripper 'should never be released from prison' Camden Ripper 'should never be released from prison'

The man who became known as the Camden Ripper "should never be released from prison", a High Court judge declared today.

Anthony Hardy was given three life sentences in November 2003 for killing women to "satisfy his depraved and perverted needs".

Almost ten years on, the case returned to court today following changes in the law on setting the minimum period a lifer must serve before being considered for parole.

Mr Justice Keith, sitting in London, said: "I have decided that Hardy should never be released from prison.

"This is one of those exceptionally rare cases in which life should mean life."

The judge, who presided over Hardy's trial, then made a "whole life" order.

Now aged 58, Hardy was released from a psychiatric hospital just weeks before he dismembered two of his victims, leaving their body parts in bin bags near his home in Royal College Street, Camden, north London.

Nine months earlier officers had discovered the body of another woman in his flat, but her death had been put down to natural causes.

Hardy pleaded guilty at his Old Bailey trial in November 2003 to murdering Sally White, 31, Elizabeth Valad, 29, and Brigette MacClennan, 34.

He had previously denied their murders but changed his plea within minutes of appearing in dock.

Giving him three life sentences, Mr Justice Keith told him: "Only you know for sure how your victims met their deaths but the unspeakable indignities to which you subjected the bodies of your last two victims in order to satisfy your depraved and perverted needs are in no doubt."

No minimum term tariff was set at the time as changes being made to the law following a European court ruling meant that the Home Secretary could no longer decide them.

Hardy's case joined a list of about 700 that had to go back to court for judges - preferably the trial judges - to set the tariffs.

Today Mr Justice Keith echoed the remarks he made when sentencing as he ruled that Hardy must never be released.

The judge said: "The fact is Hardy killed, and killed again, his last two victims at a time when he must have thought that he had 'got away with' the murder of his first.

"These were truly horrific crimes, made even worse by the indignities to which he subjected the bodies of his last two victims after their death."

The judge revealed that, at the end of Hardy's trial, he had recommended to the then Home Secretary under the old tariff system that "there was no minimum term which could properly be set".

But changes to the law on tariffs were introduced before the Home Secretary could notify Hardy on whether or not he had accepted that recommendation.

The judge said the crimes of Hardy, who is now held at Broadmoor top security hospital, "were such that they received a good deal of publicity".

A university graduate, he had worked for a number of years before being made redundant in the 1980s, separating from his wife and four children in 1986.

"Thereafter, his life went into decline. There were periods during which he received psychiatric treatment for a depressive condition as an in-patient at various psychiatric hospitals and, by the time when he killed the first of his three victims, he was an alcoholic, living alone in a flat in Camden Town."

The naked body of his first victim was found in his flat on January 20 2002 by the police, who were investigating the squirting through a neighbour's letterbox of what subsequently turned out to be battery fluid.

Hardy declined to answer any of the questions put to him about the woman, who was later identified as Sally White, a local prostitute.

The post-mortem examination on her did not produce any positive evidence as to how she had died, but the pathologist concluded that such evidence as there was suggested she had died from a heart attack.

"In the circumstances, no further action was taken against Hardy at the time in respect of Sally White's death."

In March 2002, Hardy pleaded guilty to an offence of racially aggravated criminal damage related to the damage done to his neighbour's door.

He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983, but was discharged from hospital on November 4 2002.

The following month, on December 30-31, body parts of two women were found at his flat and in dustbins in the vicinity.

"The heads and hands, as well as other body parts, were missing and were never found."

The judge said that, after going missing for a few days, Hardy was arrested following a nationwide search for him.

The body parts were eventually identified as those of local prostitutes Elizabeth Valad and Bridgette MacLennan.

Post-mortem examinations revealed that their bodies had been dismembered after death. The absence of the head and the upper part of the neck made it difficult to establish the precise cause of death, but there was evidence consistent with strangulation.

Ms Valad was last known to be alive on December 19. Hardy told police that Ms MacLennan had died on Christmas Day.

Following Hardy's arrest, the police developed some negatives from a film which Hardy had sent by post to a friend, telling him to keep them "at all costs".

The photographs showed the bodies of Ms Valad and Ms MacLennan pictured naked, after death, in a variety of sexual positions.

"The faces of both women had been concealed either with a latex devil's mask or a baseball cap."

The judge said Hardy may not have intended to kill Ms White, "but I could not accept that he had not intended to kill his last two victims".

Although they may have consented to having sex with him, "I do not believe that they would have consented to the sadistic form of sexual activity which resulted in their death".

Psychiatric reports on Hardy revealed a personality disorder which constituted an abnormality of the mind.

"However, by his pleas of guilty, Hardy accepted that his abnormality of mind had not been such as to impair substantially his mental responsibility for what he had done."

Since being sentenced, Hardy has been transferred to Broadmoor Hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983.

He had been diagnosed as suffering from a "schizo-affective disorder".

Although his mental state had improved by the time his detention had been reviewed by the Mental Health Review Tribunal in March 2008, he was said to be psychotic and apathetic, lacking in motivation, and with a tendency to isolate himself.

He continued to experience what were described as "delusional interpretations of 'his world'", and he was said to have predicted his own death.

The judge said he had to decide whether he could set a tariff for Hardy which would meet "the requirements of retribution and deterrence".

He ruled that Hardy's case "unquestionably" came within the range of a whole-life tariff.

"Indeed, this case is one of the utmost gravity, in which, exceptionally, Hardy's early acceptance of responsibility for his victims' death, his personality disorder at the time, his eventual pleas of guilty and such remorse as he expressed through his counsel carry little weight.

"The fact is that Hardy killed, and killed again, his last two victims at a time when he must have thought that he had 'got away with' the murder of his first.

"These were truly horrific crimes, made even worse by the indignities to which he subjected the bodies of his last two victims after their death."

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