Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man parole system: Son of hit-and-run victim welcomes reforms

Gwen Valentine Image copyright IOM POLICE
Image caption Gwen Valentine was knocked down and killed while out walking on 26 April 2014

The son of a walker who was killed by a car driven by a prisoner out on parole has welcomed reforms to the Isle of Man probation system.

Gwen Valentine, from Winchester in Hampshire, was hit on Tholt-y-Will Road by Donovan Kitching on 26 April 2014.

A 2017 independent inquiry report into the circumstances surrounding Kitching's early release outlined 26 recommendations.

Nineteen of the reforms have now been been implemented, the government said.

Stuart Valentine said the island's Department of Home Affairs (DHA) had "responded very positively" to the report into his mother's death.

Minister Bill Malarkey said the DHA was "committed to examining the parole process on an ongoing basis".

Kitching, who had been released on licence less than a month before the fatal crash, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced in October 2014 to 10 years in prison.

Changes to the parole system include the appointment of an on-call duty parole officer with the powers to issue an arrest warrant immediately if licence conditions are broken.

'Imperfect rules'

The reforms also mean more information is given to parole officers and the parole committee when they are considering early release.

This includes the sentencing remarks of the trial judge and the behaviour of prisoners throughout their time in prison.

Prison governor and head of the island's probation service Bob McColm said prisoners were now "carefully" risk assessed to make sure they were "less risky" to the community upon their release.

Other changes include the creation of a victims' code and the appointment of a victim liaison officer.

Reflecting on the circumstances surrounding Kitching's early release, Mr Valentine said: "Imperfect rules, when everyone follows them, sometimes lead to bad outcomes.

"There were clearly things that could be fixed, and the most important parts of those have already been fixed... others are being worked on."

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