A “WICKED” man who murdered four people in Fordingbridge should not be given parole, according to former detectives in the case.

A parole review for George Francis Stephenson has been referred to the Parole Board.

A Parole Board spokesman confirmed a date still has not been set for a hearing and the case was still going through standard processes.

Stephenson was found guilty in October 1987 of murdering Joseph Cleaver, his disabled wife Hilda, their son Tom and the family nurse, Margaret Murphy at Burgate House, which was demolished.

Retired Detective Chief Inspector Keith White, who went on to work for intelligence agencies including MI5, in an interview with ITV News Meridian, said: “To have done what he did...for me, he’s such a wicked man I don’t think he will ever change.”

“When I consider what goes on in the terrorist world there’s nothing worse than that,” he added. “But if you come down to the callous, cold blooded arrangements and preparation that George Stephenson did with regard to this particular crime, there can be nothing worse.

“He was the one who gave the orders, he was the one that told them what to do and where to go.”

David Hanna, who is a retired detective superintendent, in charge of briefing the press at the time, told the broadcaster: “I doubt you’d find a police officer in Hampshire who served at that time that would ever think that George Stephenson should ever be paroled.”

The killings happened in September 1986, where Stephenson had worked until August of that year when he was dismissed.

On September 1, he returned with two other men and broke in.Armed with a gun and pickaxe handles, Stephenson and his accomplices burst into the house while the Cleavers and Mrs Murphy were having dinner. The victims were forced upstairs where they were bound and gagged. Tom Cleaver’s wife, Wendy, was repeatedly raped, beaten and strangled. After her murder, the gang killed the other four victims by dousing them in petrol and setting them alight.

Stephenson and his co-defendants - brothers George and John Daly - were convicted after a three-week trial.

Stephenson, who was acquitted of murdering Wendy Cleaver, was sentenced to six life sentences for murder, rape and robbery, and John Daly was handed seven life sentences after being convicted of the same offences. George Daly was cleared of murder but sentenced to 22 years for rape, robbery and manslaughter.

Former firefighter Stephen Coles, recalling the incident in the Journal in 2012, said: “I was the first fireman on the scene. It was horrendous.

"How anybody could do that to five human beings is unbelievable. I have seen some appalling things in my time but never anything like those murders.”

Stephenson’s 25 year sentence was increased to 35 in 2001 by the then Home Secretary Jack Straw.

Life sentence prisoners are automatically referred to the Parole Board as they reach the minimum tariff set by the judge.

A previous statement from the Parole Board said: “Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”

The parole review process takes several months.

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