Murderer could walk free in three years

A KILLER who murdered his estranged wife in a drink-fuelled frenzy – stabbing her 27 times in her bed – can seek his freedom in less than three years after a top judge's ruling.

Ronald Yates, 59, was jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court in July 1997 after he was convicted of murdering his wife, Patricia, on August 30, 1996. The jury rejected Yates’ defence of provocation.

Mr Justice Bean, who ruled on the minimum period Yates must serve before he could apply for parole, said he broke into his wife’s Beech Street home, in South Elmsall, in the early hours after a drinking session and attacked her as she lay in bed.

He inflicted 27 stab wounds in total – three of which were fatal – and she had multiple “defence injuries” on her hands.

The couple had married in 1991 but went through a “troubled” relationship, said the judge. There were three separations and, during the last, Yates had moved into publicly-funded accommodation at the nearby Westfield Hotel.

Yates later expressed deep remorse for his crime, said the judge, who added that he had also seen moving “victim impact statements” from Patricia Yates’ relatives.

The lifer’s case reached London’s High Court last Thursday and Mr Justice Bean ruled on the correct “tariff” to be applied – the minimum term he must serve before he can apply for parole.

Despite the gravity of his crime, and the “great and continuing distress” caused to his victim’s family, the judge said Yates merited a 13-year tariff.

He had made “exceptional progress” behind bars, said the judge, becoming a “model prisoner”.

The ruling means that, after time spent on remand is taken into account, Yates can apply for parole in September 2009, although he will even then only secure his freedom if the authorities are satisfied he is not a danger to the public.

When released, Yates will remain on perpetual life “licence” – subject to instant prison recall if he puts a foot wrong.