Convicted rapist and axe murderer Edward James Horrell will be eligible for parole in 2022 after a court knocked back an application to reinstate his life sentence.
Convicted rapist and axe murderer Edward James Horrell will be eligible for parole in 2022 after a court knocked back an application to reinstate his life sentence.

"Time bomb" axe murderering rapist will soon be released?

A VICIOUS Darwin axe murderer is suitable to be released because he is now a "role model" rather than a "time bomb likely to offend again violently" the NT News can now reveal.

Edward James Horrell, 66, was jailed for life without parole in 1995 for murdering his pregnant partner with an axe before turning the weapon on her eight-year-old son and then repeatedly raping a teenage girl.

Horrell was automatically given a 20-year-non parole period under sentencing law reform in 2003 and in 2015 the Director of Public Prosecutions applied to the Supreme Court to have his previous "life means life" sentence reinstated.

The following year Justice Peter Barr declined that application and instead set a non-parole period of 27 years.

Edward Horrell with a corrections work crew.
Edward Horrell with a corrections work crew.

 

The detailed reasons for that decision can now be revealed for the first time and provide an insight into Horrell's 25 years behind bars.

The document quotes Horrell as wanting a chance at parole so he can "contribute to the community" in Nhulunbuy where he has been serving his sentence in relative "freedom" in work camps on and off since 2013.

'HE destroyed my life'" rape victim on Horrell

"I'm getting older now but I still think I can do something to make a contribution through my work and teaching the young men out here," he told the court.

In sentencing Horrell in 1995, Justice Dean Mildren said he was a "time bomb likely to offend again violently, even after many years".

But a forensic psychologist who assessed Horrell in 2015 said that was no longer the case after successfully completing treatment programs and abstaining from alcohol and drugs for the past two decades.

Police question the neighbours of Horrell’s partner who was found dead with wounds to her head in Millner.
Police question the neighbours of Horrell’s partner who was found dead with wounds to her head in Millner.

Associate Professor Stephen Woods said Horrell's age was significant because the personality disorder he suffered from at the time of the murder tends to "burn out" over time.

"Moreover, (Prof Woods explained) an individual's level of physical functioning, including sex drive, decreases with age," the document reads.

Prof Woods said Horrell was "unlikely to present a risk to himself or indeed any member of the community" on parole as long as he stayed sober and stayed in Nhulunbuy.

A character reference from a manager at the Gumatj Corporation where Horrell ran a maintenance crew in 2015, supporting his release, described the murderer as a "role model" for "impressionable young staff".

 

Another letter from a correctional services officer said he was as a person with "old school values, suitable for release".

In setting the 27-year non-parole period, Justice Barr said he was not satisfied Horrell's culpability was so extreme as to warrant imprisonment "for the term of his natural life".

"Extreme it clearly was, but given his significant progress to rehabilitation and reliable evidence as to his low risk, I did not consider that it was extreme to the extent that the respondent should be forever denied the opportunity to apply to the Parole Board for release on parole," he wrote.

Horrell will be eligible for parole in March, 2022 but prison sources have previously told the NT News he is in poor health and may not live that long.

 

*For 24-hour domestic violence support  call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.