There's an argument that rehabilitation works for some criminals, but not all. And what happens when some barbaric offenders are released - sometimes early - after serving time? In these horrific cases, murderers released back into society went on to commit more cruel crimes...
In 1979, Paul Brumfitt, then 24, and his 16-year-old girlfriend had been arguing. It sparked in Brumfitt an eight-day spree of terror. In July that year he beat a 59-year-old shopkeeper to death in Tilbury, Essex, and went on the run in Denmark. There, he strangled bus driver Teddy Laustrup, 40.
But in 1980, at the Old Bailey in London, Brumfitt pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, as well as wounding a pregnant woman with a candlestick. He was given three life sentences.
Yet, 15 years later, Brumfitt was released on license after psychiatrists found no evidence of mental illness. What did he do with his newfound freedom? He killed, again…
In February 1999, Brumfitt murdered 19-year-old Marcella Ann Davis, who worked as a prostitute, at his home in Dudley, West Midlands. He tried to destroy her remains with a fire at a scrapyard he rented in Wolverhampton. Three weeks later, Brumfitt raped another prositute at knifepoint on two occasions.
When Brumfitt was arrested, he refused to say a word to officers for 30 hours before agreeing to talk. In July 2000, at Birmingham Crown Court, Brumfitt was convicted of murder and rape, and jailed for life. Mr Justice Jowett told Brumfitt: ‘You are an evil, vicious man.’
Arthur J Bomar
It was back in 1990, and Arthur J Bomar had been released on parole from a Nevada prison. Bomar had served 11 years for killing a man after an argument over a parking space in Las Vegas. But Bomar just couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble.
That same year, he was arrested after allegedly pulling a woman from her car and assaulting her. Just three years later, he was convicted of assault in a fight outside a bar. Both arrests should have triggered revocation of his Nevada parole. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
Instead Arthur J Bomar was left to roam free and commit a second murder. In 1996, Aimee Willard was 22 and a star lacrosse player at George Mason University.
The aspiring coach and teacher had gone home to Philadelphia on her summer break. On 20 June that year, she’d been at a bar with friends then left to drive home. Only she’d disappeared… Her car was found on the motorway, still running, with a pool of blood near one headlight. Her shoes and underwear were nearby.
Fifteen hours after her disappearance, Aimee’s naked, battered body was found in a car park. She’d been raped and beated to death with a tyre-iron. Bomar became a suspect in May 1997, when a woman had been rammed in her car, and the driver tried to get her to pull over. Police believed he’d done the same to Aimee.
Bomar, 38, was arrested on an unrelated burglary charge and his car was tracked down. He was charged with Aimee’s murder when his tyre marks matched those left at the murder scene, and his DNA was a match to the semen found in Aimee.
Arthur J Bomar was convicted of first degree murder, kidnapping, rape and abuse of a corpse, and this time there would be no second chance. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection and remains on death row.
John Leslie Coombes
By 1998, John Leslie Coombes had already been convicted of murder twice. Coombes committed murder in 1984, when he killed Henry Desmond Kells in a row over a woman. He’d stabbed Henry repeatedly. Coombes stood trial a year later and said he couldn’t remember that attack, blamed another man.
His ploy failed and the judge sentenced Coombes to life with a minimum of 11 years, accepting he’d lost control due to a psychiatric condition, made worse by drugs and alcohol.
In 1998, Coombes was also convicted of a murder he’d committed nine months before he’d killed Henry. Coombes had attacked Michael Speirani on a fishing trip, thrown him overboard, then run over him with the boat’s propellers. Coombes was sentenced to 15 years, to serve a minimum of 10.
But in 2007, Coombes was given parole. Freed to kill again.
In August 2009, bagged body parts washed up on Phillip Island beach in Victoria, Australia. The first limb was a tattooed leg, identified as having belonged to Raechel Betts, a 27-year-old childcare worker. Coombes was quickly arrested.
On trial, he said he’d killed Raechel, as she’d offered him young girls for sex, and having been abused himself as a child, he’d snapped. But the story was all lies. The court heard Coombes had strangled Raechal Betts before cutting her up in the bathtub.
Sentencing Coombes to life without the possibility of parole, Justice Geoffrey Nettle said: ‘It passes understandng that a sane human being could hack up and destroy the body of another as if to use your own words, she was a lump of meat.’