‘Cannibal killer’ David Harker among first denied parole under Helen’s Law

The self-proclaimed cannibal killer David Harker has become one of the first prisoners to be rejected for parole under Helen’s Law.

The killer who boasted that he had eaten parts of his 32-year-old victim – mother-of-four Julie Paterson – had his bid for freedom rejected by the Parole Board on Tuesday

He was among the first prisoners to be considered by the board under Helen’s Law this week, which came into force earlier this year.

The law is designed to make it harder for killers to get parole if they refuse to reveal where they hid their victim’s body.

Harker is serving a life sentence after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after Ms Paterson went missing from her home in Darlington, County Durham, in 1998.

Parts of her dismembered body were found in a bin liner hidden in a garden hedge but the rest of her remains have never been recovered.

It emerged Harker had told friends and psychiatrists that he had fried part of her thigh and eaten it with pasta and cheese.

The Parole Board confirmed Harker’s case had been rejected on Tuesday but is yet to provide any further details on how the decision was reached.

Meanwhile, Glyn Razzell, who is also serving a life sentence for the murder of his estranged 41-year-old wife, Linda Razzell, also had his parole denied under Helen’s Law on Wednesday.

Ms Razzell, a mother of four, disappeared on her way to work at Swindon College in Wiltshire in March 2002.

The pair were embroiled in divorce proceedings when she went missing and his trial heard he faced a financial settlement that he was not prepared to accept.

Razzell denied her killing but was found guilty by a jury and no trace of her body has ever been found.

Both prisoners will be eligible for another parole decision in about two years’ time.

The Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Act 2020, known as Helen’s Law, was enacted in January.

Named after insurance clerk Helen McCourt, who vanished on her way home from work in 1988, the law will also apply to paedophiles who refuse to identify those they abused.

Ms McCourt’s murderer, Ian Simms, was released last year despite never saying where he hid her body.

Her mother Marie McCourt spent five years calling for the legislation before it finally gained royal assent in November after a series of political and constitutional setbacks.

Under the law, killers could still be released if no longer deemed a risk to the public even if they refuse to disclose information.

But the Parole Board will be legally required to consider whether they have co-operated with inquiries as part of their assessment.

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