Published: 08:39, 14 May 2021
| Updated: 15:33, 14 May 2021
A serial killer who butchered a catholic priest in a Kent village has been told he will not be freed from prison.
Patrick Mackay was jailed in 1975 for the gruesome killing of Anthony Crean in Shorne, near Gravesend, who was hacked to death with an axe.
The Parole Board had been considering whether Mackay, who grew up around Dartford and Gravesham, could be released in the latest review 26 years after completing his minimum sentence.
But officials have decided 68-year-old Mackay – who was convicted for strangling two elderly women in London and then confessed to eight more murders before denying them – will not be released and is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
He was just 23 when he was jailed for stabbing and strangling pensioner Isabella Griffiths, 87, in Belgravia, central London in 1974 and 89-year-old Adele Price the following year.
It was also in 1975 when Father Crean, 64, was found hacked to death and left in a blood-soaked bathtub in Shorne.
The other eight attacks which Mackay initially admitted remain unsolved and a judge has said will stay on file.
Police found stashes of Nazi memorabilia at Mackay's home when it was searched in connection with the investigation.
Forces launched fresh inquiries in 2019 into the killings, delaying Mackay's latest hearing. He was first eligible for release back in 1995 but has been denied parole at every hearing since.
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has repeatedly stated he believes Mackay should never be released.
But the board, in a decision summary released to the Mirror, said it could not make findings of fact relating to the cases due to a lack of substantive evidence and the amount of time which has passed.
Mackay, who has changed his name to David Groves, was convicted of manslaughter by diminished responsibility and sentenced to life imprisonment after a trial at the Old Bailey.
Since 2017, he has been in an open prison and is Britain's longest serving prisoner having spent the last 46 years behind bars.
Parole officers said the killer was "not suitable" for release but added he could see out the rest of his life in open conditions.
The hearing considered 1,700 pages of documents and interviewed Mackay's probation officer, the official supervising his case in prison, a psychologist and an independent psychologist.
Mackay also gave evidence in person for the hearing and a victim personal statement which outlined the impact and consequences of the crimes was also considered.
Mr Johnson, commenting on the board's decision, said: "I was deeply concerned at the prospect of this man being released from prison so I am pleased his application for parole was refused.
"I informed the Parole Board that I strongly objected to him being released and I am relieved that they agreed with me.
"I did not want him living back in Dartford. Patrick Mackay should never be released from prison.
"I do not think there will ever be a time when it would be safe to release him..."
"It would have been an insult to his many victims for him to be released. He is responsible for the brutal killings of at least three people and probably many more so I do not think there will ever be a time when it would be safe to release him.”
The Parole Board decision said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearings, the panel was not satisfied that Mr Mackay was suitable for release.
"However, on assessing the benefits and risks of Mr Mackay remaining in open conditions, the panel recommended that he should stay in the open estate.”
The Parole Board has recommended "a very cautious approach" to Mackay's rehabilitation.
He spent the first 27 years of his sentence in a top security Category A prison as a result of concerns regarding his behaviour.
Mackay will be eligible for another parole hearing in the future, the Parole Board said.