Merrick Rogers, convicted of Claire's murder
A taxi driver jailed for life for the shocking murder of a young mother in Canterbury continues to protest his innocence as he prepares to be released.
Merrick Rogers, now 38, throttled and sexually assaulted 23-year-old Claire Streader in May 1999 and dumped her body in a bush in St Stephen’s Park.
He denied the murder, but was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison - to serve a minimum of 14 years.
Now his father Colin Rogers revealed the killer is set to be moved to an open prison and could be released before Christmas next year.
The 71-year-old also says his son will never admit to the murder, which has prevented him being released at an earlier date.
He said: “Merrick will never admit he killed Claire and we still believe the case against him is flawed.”
Rogers was convicted in the face of compelling DNA evidence after his saliva was found on the breast and bra of mum-of-one Claire.
The pair, who knew each other, had been out drinking together in the city on the night Claire was killed.
Former Chaucer Technology School pupil Rogers won a reduction in his minimum term to 12-and-a-half years, but an appeal against his conviction was rejected in 2006.
Colin Rogers who is continuing his name to clear his son's name
He is being held at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire, but has now been granted category D status, which means he is considered lower risk and can be moved to an open prison where the regime is far less strict.
It will also pave the way for day release outings, home visits and his eventual freedom.
Mr Rogers lives in Forty Acres Road, Canterbury, with Merricks’ mother Beryl and still works delivering stationery.
He says his son has been a “model prisoner” and kept himself occupied while in prison, largely through studying, gaining diplomas and helping other inmates with their literacy.
Canterbury murder victim Claire Streader
He said: “We hope he will be out by Christmas next year, although he won’t be able to come back to Canterbury and is likely to live near his sister Maxine in Sittingbourne.
“We hope to move up that way ourselves, too.
“He wants to rebuild his life in some way, although it won’t be easy with a conviction for murder.
“It is likely that he will have to be self-employed, but he has been gaining quite a few skills while in prison.
“The family visit him every three weeks and news that he has been granted category D status has given him a psychological boost.”
News of Rogers’ possible release has angered Claire’s father Peter Streader, who says he is “evil” and should stay behind bars until he is 65.
The 70-year-old has lived with the tragic death of his daughter for more than 14 years, during which time Claire’s grief-stricken mother Ann died.
After the murder, the couple brought up Claire’s young son Ben at their former home in Downs Road. He was just six when his mother was killed.
Mr Streader, who now lives in Ainsley Road, Chartham, says his family was devastated when Rogers won a cut in the length of his sentence.
Pete Streader, father of murder victim Claire Streader
He said: “He will be 39 next year with quite a full life ahead of him if he is released, as looks likely – years he took away from my daughter.
“I dread the thought of him being out.
"I don’t care what the do-gooders say – life should mean life and he should be inside until he is at least 65" - Claire Streader's dad Peter
"I don’t care what the do-gooders say – life should mean life and he should be inside until he is at least 65.
“Although he’s still not admitted killing Claire, I have never doubted his guilt from the evidence I heard. As far as I’m concerned he’s evil.
“I don’t know how I would react if I bumped into him because I still go into Canterbury regularly and to St Dunstan’s to get my hair cut.
“Hopefully, he won’t be allowed back into the area.”
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