A businessman who confronted an armed killer in his home is calling for an urgent review of the parole system.
Murderer Anthony Swindells was jailed for life for murdering retired town clerk Ken Speakman in Ramsgate in 1996.
He was caught and convicted following a gun raid on the home of Birchington businessman Roger Andrews three months later.
Roger Andrews with guard dog Sheba at their Birchington home
The case of Swindells, now 57, formerly of Broadstairs, is due before the parole board next month.
If successful, he could walk away free within a year, a possibility which Mr Andrews, now 67, is fighting.
He is calling for questions to be asked about the parole system in general and has highlighted the circumstances of Mr Speakman’s killing and Swindells' “warped” behaviour as reasons why the killer’s bid for freedom should be rejected outright.
Swindells had burst into Mr Andrews' home to rob him, armed with four handguns.
Mr Andrews, himself a gun enthusiast, then a member of a Herne Bay gun club and today chairman of the Dover/Folkestone-based White Cliffs Shooting Club, had managed to defend himself and protect wife Katya and her friend by shooting at Swindells.
Anthony Swindells is due before the parole board soon
The robber had fled, with three gun shot wounds, and was swiftly captured by police.
The investigations that followed led to Swindells conviction for the murder of 84-year-old Mr Speakman. Swindells had posed as bogus solicitor "Andrew Morgan" from a local firm, to enter his home.
The killer had tied the pensioner up, handcuffed and tortured him, before strangling him from behind and stealing guns from the elderly man’s collection. They included handguns used in the raid on the Andrews home.
It transpired that Swindells had included Mr Speakman on a list of about 50 potential local “targets”, including Mr Andrews, as well as details of the families of his potential victims. He had used Debretts book of Kent to choose future possible victims.
Roger Andrews with one of the gun holes left in a door frame after armed gunman and murderer Anthony Swindells raided his home
Although sentenced for “life”, Swindells had a 17-year tariff, meaning when that time period had elapsed, he could apply for parole.
Mr Andrews was stunned to learn last summer that Swindells was coming up for a parole hearing and that his offending managers (formerly known as probation officers), based at the Margate office, were recommending him for parole.
He was shocked to discover that the parole board, when making their decision, take only into account how the prisoner has behaved in jail and whether they consider an offender a risk to the general public if granted parole. Mr Andrews feels it is imperative they scrutinise the details of each case, and especially the character of each offender.
Mr Andrews insisted on meeting the offending managers and learnt they were unaware of many details of his case, including the fact that Swindells had tried to sue Mr Andrews for his injuries, had a list of potential victims and had posed as a bogus solicitor to gain entry to Mr Speakman's house.
He believes Swindells’ behaviour, the vicious nature of Mr Speakman’s murder, as well as the gun raid on his home, are all material to the parole board’s decision.
Ken Speakman, murdered in his home by Anthony Swindells
This led to Mr Andrews and his wife Katya writing their own personal victim statements, which Mr Andrews read to the parole board.
They included statements from former detective superintendent Nick Biddiss and former detective inspector Terry Gabriel, both now retired from Kent Police but actively involved in investigations at the time of Mr Speakman’s murder.
As a result, the parole board decided to defer making a decision “for more information”.
The Andrews’ victim statements described the profound effects the raid had had on them, and their considerable concerns should Swindells be released.
"In my view, and based on the circumstances of these crimes, Swindells still presents a substantial risk to the public and to certain individuals" - retired police chief Nick Biddiss
Mr Andrews wrote: “Despite the fact that he was shot, having come in to our home intending at the very least to rob, and I believe fully intending to kill any witnesses, on January 25 2000, solicitors acting for him wrote me a letter claiming damages for his injuries.
They said: ‘We understand, that you may have thought that our client was a trespasser.’
He told Kentonline: “That letter shows that fully three years after Mr Speakman’s murder, and almost three years from the attempted armed robbery, that Swindells clearly did not have a shred of remorse, but instead a very warped idea of reality.”
Part of Mr Biddiss’s statement, read to the parole board in Mr Andrews’ victim statement, reads: “The fact remains that Mr Andrews still lives in the same house at Birchington, and I honestly believe that, given the opportunity,Swindells will seek revenge for the fact that, not only was Mr Andrews the one who brought him to justice, but he shot him.
Mr Biddiss continues: “... in my view, and based on the circumstances of these crimes, Swindells still presents a substantial risk to the public and to certain individuals.
To let him out after what is a comparatively short period, is at the very least unfair, and in reality dangerous.”