The distraught family of a teenager who was strangled in Australia have blasted a decision to release her murderer, calling him a ‘monster’. Rebecca Ryle was 19 when she was killed by evil James Duggan in 2004 after her family emigrated to Australia from Harwood, Bolton.
It’s now been revealed Duggan, who had also emigrated from the UK, was released from prison on March 11 this year – almost 18 years on – and is due to be deported back to the UK. Rebecca’s brother said he found it ‘horrific’ the British public would now be ‘subjected to him’ and that he’s been allowed to ‘start afresh’, adding: “He doesn’t deserve the opportunity to start again. He stole a life. “
Duggan, who hailed from Liverpool, was convicted in 2006 of murdering Rebecca, a former pupil of Turton High School in Bolton, after meeting her at a pub in Perth, Australia, that night when he was 20, reports The Liverpool Echo.
He offered to walk Rebecca’s home on May 5, 2004, then strangled her for more than three minutes on the grounds of a primary school just meters away from her home. Duggan, now in his 30s, left his victim’s half-naked body in a field which was found by police a few hours later.
During the court case at the Western Australian Supreme Court, Justice Lindy Jenkins described the crime as ‘bizarre’ when she jailed him for a minimum of 11 years and six months. Justice Jenkins said the murder was every parent’s worst nightmare, adding Rebecca had died ‘alone and degraded’. Duggan, she said, never fully explained why he killed her.
A parole board in Australia reviewed Duggan’s case on November 19, 2019 and the Attorney General decided not to release him due to his behavior in prison, a return to substance abuse and offending.
He said: “Given the serious nature of the offence, Mr Duggan’s poor prison behaviour, uncertainty around the level of professional support that he would receive in England, lack of acknowledgment of wrong doing and apparent lack of remorse, I am not convinced Mr Duggan’s release to parole is appropriate at this time.”
The board reviewed Duggan’s case again in September 2021 and the Attorney General recommended his release from prison, along with two years on parole. The new case included a psychological report, dated June 23, 2021, where a senior forensic psychologist said Duggan had ‘engaged in a considerable amount of treatment’ and identified him as having a ‘moderate risk of violent reoffending’.
A report from the community corrections officer dated July 19, 2021, said Duggan ‘imparted remorse and regret towards the offense as well as acknowledging the victim’.
As part of his parole Duggan must have no direct or indirect contact with Rebecca’s family, be deported back to the UK from Australia and comply with any and all directions and restrictions, now or in the future, made, issued or imposed by the Federal Government or Government of Western Australia.
Rebecca’s family have slammed the Attorney General’s ruling to let Duggan out of prison. They moved to the suburb of Mindarie in 2003. Ella’s brother, Andy, told The Echo: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that the loss of Rebecca destroyed our family. Our lives were utterly shattered, where so much happiness had once been .
“We had come to Australia to start a new life, and within six months, it had been completely decimated. It had really gone from our dream life to a nightmare.
“There’s no way of knowing the extent of the damage that the trauma has caused us and still continues to do so. The kind of effects that such a heinous and destructive crime has on your mental health is often overwhelming – especially when it’s clear that the responsible person continues to show no remorse or motive, nearly 20 years after the fact.”
When asked about how they felt hearing Duggan was released from prison, Andy said: “Anger. Sadness. Anxiety. Fury. The worst emotions possible really, and all the energy that has to be spent going through them. I find some small comfort in knowing this man will never set foot in Australia ever again, and my parents can rest easy knowing that they’ll never have to bump into him in the street.
“However, I find it horrific that the alternative is that the British public is subjected to him, and that he can start afresh. I hope that by writing this, at least some people are made aware that this monster will be around. He doesn’t ‘t deserve the opportunity to start again. He stole a life.” Duggan is currently in an immigration detention center in Australia, awaiting deportation back to the UK.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.