Melinda Croft’s father – killer should never have been released

A copy of a family photograph of Melinda Croft who was killed in 1986
A copy of a family photograph of Melinda Croft who was killed in 1986

The father of Melinda Croft has spoken to the Observer following the sentencing of Keith Williams today (Monday, June 1).

Peter Croft says the man who killed his pregnant daughter in 1986 should never have been released to attack someone else.

The front page of the Hastings Observer from December 11, 1986

The front page of the Hastings Observer from December 11, 1986

Williams, 48, was today sentenced to life in prison, serving a minimum of 16 years, at Hove Trial Centre after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of Amarius Hatton.

Speaking from his home in Hastings after the sentence was passed, Mr Croft said: “He should never have been given parole.

“We have fought all these years to keep him inside.

“He was never fit to be released. He has never shown any remorse.”

Williams was convicted of manslaughter, on the basis of diminished responsibility for the killing of 17-year-old Melinda in Hastings in 1986.

Melinda died of multiple stab wounds and her body was set on fire.

Williams was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 23 years.

On October 21, 2013, he was released on licence.

On September 8, 2014 – less than one year after being released – he attacked his friend Amarius Hatton in her flat, stabbing her multiple times and smothering her cries with a pillow.

“I don’t know why he wasn’t given a whole life sentence, I don’t understand,” said Mr Croft.

“I know he has got to serve 16 years but having done it twice he should never have the chance for parole.”

For Mr Croft, the case had more than one echo of the ‘brutal savagery’ of his daughter’s killing.

Both victims were friends with Williams prior to the attack and both sustained multiple stab wounds.

“There wasn’t any difference from what he did to my daughter,” he said.

“It is a copycat, I am sure if she hadn’t shouted she would be dead.”

Mr Croft said he has never received an apology from Williams and he had never shown any remorse.

“When I was told my daughter was dead, that she had died in a fire, in the morning I was asked by the police to give a statement about her,” he said.

“This guy came over to me to say how sorry he was to hear about Melinda. What I found out later was that was Williams, the man who’d killed her.”

Although he said Williams should never have been released on licence, Mr Croft said he probably would not be making an official complaint.

“It probably wouldn’t make any difference whatsoever,” he said.

“I think most British people don’t have any faith in the justice system, it is geared too far to the offender and victims and relatives don’t really count.”

Speaking about Melinda, who would have celebrated her 47th birthday on June 14, he said: “She was just a young, really quite innocent girl.

“She was really lovely and just innocent.

“She wouldn’t have seen the danger, she wouldn’t have seen signs of danger.

“Then, why would you assume if you’re with a friend that you know that you would have to?”

He said the killing ‘virtually devastated’ his family, particularly Melinda’s older siblings Paula and Paul.

One of Paula’s daughters is named Melinda after her sister.

Melinda also has two siblings she never got the chance to meet – Emma and Matthew.

“I am so disillusioned with the justice system in this country,” he said.

“Everybody I speak to feels the same, there is no justice any more.”

When asked for a comment by the Observer, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Our sympathies are with the victim following this abhorrent crime.

“The release of life sentence prisoners is a decision for the independent Parole Board.

“In all cases of serious further offending, a review is carried out to identify any learning for the management of future cases.”

Keith Williams sentenced to life in prison

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