Dallat slams release of "cold blooded" killer Torrens Knight

SDLP MLA John Dallat has hit out at the release of Greysteel killer Torrens Knight saying it has shocked the entire community.

Knight served seven years in prison for his part in the murders of eight people at the Rising Sun bar in 1993 and four workmen in Castlerock earlier the same year.

He was then released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement but he had his early release licence revoked after he was found guilty of attacking two women in a bar in Coleraine in 2008.

In 2009 he was then sentenced to four months in jail.

But last week news broke that Knight had been released from prison once again.

"This decision by the Review Commissioners has provoked anger and has raised important questions as to why he has got the kid glove treatment after breaking the terms of his early release following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement," said Mr Dallat.

"One of the most difficult things I have had to do was to ring the two sisters he savagely beat up in Coleraine on 31 May 2008 because I was certain they had not been told and, of course, they hadn't.

"When the Greysteel killer was arrested and taken to jail I received a phone call from the Northern Ireland Office. On his release, I was ignored. Not even the police officer who dealt with the case knew he was on his way home to resume residence within one mile of one of the sisters he beat up.

"As word spread on Friday night that this Houdini, the master of escape, was out of jail I talked to ordinary people who were simply bewildered by the decision of the Review Commissioners with no-one understanding why Knight seems to tower above others who broke the terms of their early release and had their licences revoked immediately even before they stood trial. Knight's licence was only suspended, never revoked.

"At his first appearance in Coleraine court house, I will never forget him strutting over to instruct me not to be talking to the two girls.

"At that stage both of them were inconsolable. The killer who talked to me wasn't in the slightest bit sorry for what he done to them.

"He wasn't someone who was in the least ashamed by what he did to the 12 people who lost their lives at Castlerock and Greysteel and indeed in his statement to the PSNI he stated he wasn't ashamed of his past.

"This was the same cold-blooded killer who was revelling in his notoriety and people have asked the question 'Will he kill again?'" said Mr Dallat.

The MLA said he always feared that Knight would not remain in jail.

"I remember in particular the day the then Secretary of State was supposed to sign the papers to enable the PSNI to lift Knight," said Mr Dallat.

"On the evening of that day I received a phone call to say he had gone back to England without signing them. Only after a great deal of effort by civil servants were the papers finally signed electronically.

"The damage done to democracy by this decision is horrendous and it will take a great deal of convincing that Torrens Knight should be back in the community.

"The Northern Ireland Office and the Review Commissioners have done a great disservice to democracy which brings only shame and they need to explain themselves.

"When the wider community gave their consent to the Early Release Scheme they did it on the understanding that anyone who broke the terms would be back in jail to serve the remainder of their life sentences.

"Most have stuck to those terms but Knight hasn't and people wonder why he has got away with it," he concluded.