EXCLUSIVE Child killer who abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered three-year-old girl after she went to buy lolly from ice cream van is refused parole for seventh time
- Shane Armstrong is serving a life sentence for the murder of little Rosie Palmer
- He had 7th parole application turned down without being given oral hearing
A notorious child killer who abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered a three-year-old toddler after she went to buy a lolly from an ice cream van is to stay behind bars after being refused parole for the seventh time.
Shane Armstrong, now 60, had his latest application turned down without even being given an oral hearing by a three-person Parole Board who considered evidence in his case file.
In a rare move, Armstrong was told he would not be given the opportunity to make his case face-to-face with the Parole Board and would have to wait until at 2025 to apply for parole again.
The Parole Board also refused to sanction a move to a Category D open prison.
Armstrong is serving a life sentence for the horrific murder of little Rosie Palmer in the seaside port town of Hartlepool, County Durham, in June 1994.
Shane Armstrong, now 60, had his seventh parole application turned down without even being given an oral hearing by a three-person Parole Board who considered evidence in his case file
Rosie’s partially clothed and mutilated body was found stuffed in a bin liner in a flat 50 metres from her home days after he had snatched the child 20 metres from her home.
Armstrong had a history of psychiatric problems and just a year before the murder had been identified as ‘likely to be a risk to any child he comes into contact with’, but was released from Hartlepool General Hospital and rehoused near the family.
A subsequent report into the standard of his psychiatric care found a number of failings.
Armstrong was convicted of Rosie’s murder at Leeds Crown Court in July 1995.
In 2006 a High Court judge set the minimum term at 16 years, less 12 months and 21 days Armstrong had spent on remand.
A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board refused the release of Shaun Armstrong following a paper review in January 2023. The panel also refused to recommend a move to open prison.
‘Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.
‘A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.
‘Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.
‘Under current legislation he will be eligible for a further review in due course. The date of the next review will be set by the Ministry of Justice.’
The abduction and murder of Rosie shocked the nation in the mid 1990s and even sparked a debate about the return of the death penalty for child killers.
Armstrong snatched Rosie after she had purchased an ice lolly from an ice cream van just 20 metres from her home in Henrietta Street on June 30, 1994.
The body of little Rosie (pictured) was found inside a bin liner in Armstrong’s home on July 3, 1994
Rosie’s body was later found inside a bin liner in Armstrong’s home on July 3 , 1994..
Armstrong, then 32, had a history of psychiatric problems and was known to neighbours as ‘Tony the Pervert’.
In March 1993, a social worker had warned that Armstrong was ‘likely to be a risk to any child he comes into contact with’, but Cleveland County Council failed to act on the report.
Armstrong was convicted of Rosie’s murder on July 27, 1995.
The case sparked huge anger and highlighted a number of issues including communication between governmental agencies, standards of psychiatric care and the conduct of the police search.
A report on the psychiatric care given to Armstrong was published in June 1996, with the local health authority criticising the standard of care as ‘inadequate and full of shortcomings’.
But the report added that the murder of Palmer ‘could not have been predicted’.
In June 1997, Rosie’s mother Beverley Yates launched a £200,000 compensation claim against Tees Health Authority and Hartlepool and East Durham NHS Trust – alleging negligence for allowing Armstrong to be released from their care.
This was thought to be the first damages claim against a health authority or NHS trust by a relative of someone murdered by a released patient.
But the claim was struck out in February 1998 in the High Court by Master Hodgson, who ruled that Armstrong had made no direct threat against Rosie and her family.
He said: ‘In the absence of such a specific threat I think it is impossible, as the law currently stands, for me to hold that the hospital in these circumstances owes effectively a duty (of care) to the world at large.’
The case hit the headlines again in September 2001, when it was revealed that Armstrong had been granted legal aid to sue the author Bernard O’Mahoney, who had posed as a woman to gain Armstrong’s trust.
Armstrong had confessed to O’Mahoney in letters from prison, which directly contributed to him pleading guilty.
He wanted £15,000, but dropped the claim in June 2002.
Armstrong’s minimum term meant he was eligible for parole in July 2010.
In 2006, judge Mr Justice Crane said the horrific murder might have resulted in a whole life tariff if it had occurred at that time.
The judge said the ‘murder of a child involving the abduction of the child or sexual or sadistic motivation normally now results in a whole life order’.
He added: ‘It may well be that the degree of mental disorder and the plea of guilty would have led a sentencing judge to conclude that those normal consequences would not follow.’
The minimum term would likely have been 28 years and six months ‘on today’s principles’, the judge added.
He continued: ‘Even if greater weight were given to the applicant’s (Armstrong’s) mental state, a term of not less than 25 years would be inevitable.
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