Family braced for killer's return to Sittingbourne

Image caption,
Michael Chapman died after being attacked on playing fields

A father whose 16-year-old son was kicked and punched to death has said he will take one day at a time when his son's killer returns to their town.

Michael Chapman, 16, died after he was assaulted on school playing fields in Sittingbourne, Kent, in June 2006. Lee Cowie, then 19, admitted manslaughter.

After Cowie's licence expires on Sunday, he can return to to the town.

Lloyd Chapman said he would be focusing on marking the four year anniversary of his son's death.

Cowie, now 21, was sentenced to four years in a young offenders' institution in May 2007 after pleading guilty to manslaughter, but was freed in June 2008.

After Cowie was freed, Kent Probation Service confirmed he had served his sentence.

Prime Minister's support

On Saturday, Mr Chapman staged a memorial concert on the anniversary of his son's death, at the family home.

Mr Chapman added he and his family would also continue their anti-violence campaign.

"It is something that has hit us," he said.

"We've had visits from the police and we've had a letter from the probation service saying that after this weekend his licence expires, and he's quite free to come back to Sittingbourne.

"We'll have to take one day at a time."

Since losing Michael, he has fought an anti-bullying and anti-violence campaign in which he met former Justice Secretary Jack Straw twice, and more recently, he received a letter of support from Prime Minister David Cameron.

Image caption,
Michael Chapman is buried near his family home in Sittingbourne

Mr and Mrs Chapman have been calling for tougher prison sentences and for offenders to serve their full terms.

A joint statement from Kent Police and Kent Probation Service responded to Cowie's licence expiring.

It said: "We realise that the anniversary of Michael Chapman's death will be very difficult for his family and our thoughts are with them at this time.

"Supporting victims of crime is a top priority for Kent Probation and Kent Police.

"Where an offender has been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment or more for a violent offence such as this, Kent Probation asks if they [the victims] would like to be kept informed of key developments during the offender's sentence and told when the supervision is coming to an end.

"In this case, Kent Probation has contacted Mr Chapman. Kent Police also remain in contact with Mr Chapman and his family."

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