Killer who shot dead Budleigh Salterton woman wins chance to prove he should be moved to softer prison

PUBLISHED: 17:11 19 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:11 19 July 2017

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

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

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Keith Rose, 68, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of Juliet Rowe, has taken his case to the High Court

Keith Rose Keith Rose

A jailed killer and former escapee has won a new chance to prove he is safe enough to be moved to a softer prison.

Keith Rose was jailed in 1991 for the brutal murder of a supermarket owner’s wife in Budleigh Salterton a decade earlier.

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 case was rejected by the Deputy Director of Custody High Security last June, but he challenged the decision at the High Court.

Juliet Rowe Juliet Rowe

Rose, now 68, claimed it was ‘unlawful’ for his case to be refused without him having the chance to put it in person.

It was especially important that he got every chance to prove he is safe enough, due to the extra costs of holding someone in a Category A cell, his lawyers argued.

Today, giving judgment on the judicial review, Judge Karen Steyn QC agreed that the refusal of an oral hearing was ‘unlawful’.

The decision means Rose will get another chance to prove he is safe enough to be moved to less-secure conditions behind bars.

It would be another step in the killer’s bid to eventually be released altogether - as lifers seeking release only stand a chance once out of Category A conditions.

“The prospects of a prisoner who is serving a life sentence being released on parole from Category A remain...effectively nil,” said Judge Steyn.

In her judgment, the judge said a prison panel had recommended that his security classification be downgraded.

But the Director refused to approve it, in part because Rose continues to deny he is guilty of the 1981 murder of Juliet Rowe in Budleigh Salterton.

The judge said it had led to an ‘impasse’ - Rose stood little chance of being downgraded due to his continued denials, yet most other evidence pointed towards downgrading.

“This does not mean that it was not open to the Director to make a rational finding that Mr Rose should remain in Category A,” she continued.

“But it does mean that he could not lawfully do so without giving Mr Rose an opportunity to address the points that were troubling him at an oral hearing.

“For the reasons given, the Director’s decision not to hold an oral hearing was unlawful and, accordingly, the claim for judicial review is allowed.”

Rose killed Mrs Rowe by shooting her six times during an attempt to kidnap her from her home in 1981.

He was only brought to justice after his arrest a decade later for other serious offences.

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.

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