27 April 2021

Man who raped and murdered nine-year-old girl denied parole

27 April 2021

A man who raped and murdered a nine-year-old girl will remain behind bars after his bid to be freed from jail was rejected.

The Parole Board said it was not satisfied John O’Shaughnessy was suitable for release but recommended he stay in open prison.

O’Shaughnessy was handed a life sentence in December 1997 after befriending Kayleigh Ward a year earlier, then luring her to a deserted river bank and subjecting her to an hour-long attack.

He strangled her with his belt and her tights before throwing her body in the water.

Courts John O’Shaughnessy (PA Media)

Aged 31 at the time, he had been living at the same homeless hostel in Chester as her family.

It was nearly two months before her body washed up at low tide on the banks of the River Dee, after O’Shaughnessy had been among those helping to search for her.

A document detailing the Parole Board decision said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the other evidence presented at the hearings, the panel was not satisfied that Mr O’Shaughnessy was yet suitable for release.

“However, on assessing the benefits and risks of Mr O’Shaughnessy remaining in open conditions, the panel recommended this outcome.”

Now in his 50s, O’Shaughnessy will be eligible for another parole review, typically in about two years.

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