Killer who shot dead Budleigh Salterton woman fights for move to softer prison

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:21 04 July 2017

Killer Keith Rose (left) and victim Juliet Rowe (right)

Killer Keith Rose (left) and victim Juliet Rowe (right)

Archant

A jailed killer and former escapee is fighting for a move to a softer prison after arguing it would be cheaper for the taxpayer to keep him in a less secure cell.

Keith RoseKeith Rose

Keith Rose was jailed in 1991 for the brutal murder of a supermarket owner’s wife in Budleigh Salterton - and has already once sparked a frantic manhunt by escaping.

He has been in high security conditions for 26 years, but now claims he is a changed man and should be moved to a cushier jail.

His barrister Jude Bunting said it is in the public interest for criminals to be kept in high security only when absolutely necessary, as it is a drain on the public purse.

“Keeping a prisoner in very high security conditions is much more expensive than keeping him in less secure conditions,” he told Judge Karen Steryn QC.

Juliet RoweJuliet Rowe

Rose was already serving a 15-year stretch for kidnapping when he was convicted in 1991 of the murder, which had happened 10 years earlier.

He killed Juliet Rowe, 42, by shooting her six times during an attempt to kidnap her from her home in Budleigh Salterton in 1981.

Serving a life term, he escaped through a gym door, cut a wire fence and scaled a 25-foot wall to escape from Parkhurst Prison with two other cons in 1995.

The trio were caught days later after police scoured the Isle of Wight looking for them.

Rose, 68, is still in a high security jail now, where he is classed as a Category A prisoner and so subject to the strictest regime.

In June last year, the Ministry of Justice reviewed his case and refused to downgrade him to a lower category.

But Rose has challenged the decision, taking his case to the High Court in a bid for a fresh review of where he should be held.

Mr Bunting said it was wrong that his case was considered without him being present to put forward his case in person.

Rose has done work to reduce his risk to the public and is no longer a danger, he claims.

Although he has already served his 25-year minimum term, he stands little to no chance of getting out while still rated as a Category A prisoner, the court heard.

It was ‘unfair’ that the decision to keep him in a high security jail was taken without an oral hearing with Rose present, Mr Bunting added.

He said there is a ‘strong public interest’ in knowing that the authorities ‘are making the correct classifications in these very financially straitened times’.

The Ministry of Justice argues that there was no reason why an oral hearing should have been held and wants his Category A status upheld.

Judge Steryn reserved judgment until a later date.

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