Killer fails in bid to leave jail early

John Johnson
John Johnson
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A BLACKPOOL murderer jailed for stabbing a brave householder who rumbled him breaking into his home has been denied a chance of early parole.

Career burglar John Johnson, described as “every householder’s nightmare” by an Old Bailey judge, stabbed 60-year-old John Pettit, who chased Johnson from his home in 2000.

Johnson, of Blackpool, now 54, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in September 2001 after he was convicted of the murder and was ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years behind bars before he could even apply for parole.

After undertaking charity work on the inside, Johnson applied for a reduction in that term at London’s High Court.

But Mrs Justice Thirwall rejected his pleas after describing his behaviour behind bars as “impressive, but not exceptional.”

The judge told the court about the night on which Johnson came from his Charles Street home to the wealthy London suburb of Pinner, where builder Mr Pettit lived.

He broke into the property without waking an elderly relative of Mr Pettit who was asleep upstairs, and carried out a “thorough search” for things to steal. But Mr Pettit came home and chased Johnson from the house.

The judge said Johnson then drew a screwdriver from his pocket and stabbed Mr Pettit through the heart.

At his trial, Johnson claimed he was defending himself and had not intended to kill Mr Pettit, but the jury convicted him of murder.

He had made an obscene gesture to the Old Bailey judge as he was jailed for life.

Now close to his 10th anniversary behind bars, Johnson mounted a challenge to his minimum term, claiming his record in jail meant he should be considered for earlier release.

Mrs Justice Thirwall said: “His record in prison, particularly in recent years, has been excellent. He has completed a number of useful courses, held trusted positions and is known to accept additional work without complaint.

“Within a number of his prison placements he has acted as a listener for other prisoners. He has also worked hard for charity.”

But, after reviewing his case, the judge concluded his conduct was not so “exceptional” as to warrant a reduction in his minimum term.

He said: “It is plain the applicant has used his time in prison constructively and impressively, but his progress cannot properly be described as exceptional.”