Families united in bail change battle

In a remarkable story of solidarity and mutual support following the murder of their daughter by a man released on bail, Fleetwood couple Grenville and Kath Atkinson have joined forces with John and Penny Clough, who live in Barrowford near Colne. John and Penny (left)  and Grenville and Kath with a poster highlighting the website John and Penny have set up in the hope of changing bail law
In a remarkable story of solidarity and mutual support following the murder of their daughter by a man released on bail, Fleetwood couple Grenville and Kath Atkinson have joined forces with John and Penny Clough, who live in Barrowford near Colne. John and Penny (left) and Grenville and Kath with a poster highlighting the website John and Penny have set up in the hope of changing bail law
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“WE are part of a club, an awful club we don’t want to be members of.”

For the parents of Jane Clough and Claire Atkinson the pain and heartache will never go away.

Both have lost daughters to killers who took advantage of the law to rob two families of their beautiful children.

Both were on bail for previous violence towards the young mums – free to carry out their sadistic actions.

Now, on the first anniversary of Jane’s death, The Gazette brought both families together as they call for a change in the bail law.

Penny Clough, Jane’s mother, said: “It’s just horrible. You think a year ago Jane was still here with us.

“We miss her so much. It’s the everyday things – having a chat over a brew about work and going shopping together.

“I miss her voice. I’ve got this fear of forgetting what her voice sounds like.”

Grenville Atkinson – Claire’s dad – added: “Our lives are in bits.

“I remember seeing the news about Jane’s death and thought this is another family that is going to have to go through it again.

“There is no accountability for judges.

“Where was the duty of care for Claire and Jane?”

Miss Clough, whose daughter will turn two in October, was stabbed 19 times by Jonathan Vass while he was awaiting trial for rape.

Claire, whose eldest son 11-year-old Harvey is due to start high school in September and youngest boy Euan is nine-years-old, was stabbed 13 times by Alan Entwistle while he was on bail for kidnapping and threatening her.

Jane’s dad , John Clough, 51, said: “We saw the parallels in both their deaths. It’s emotional, it’s hard. We both just need to be here for each other.”

Mr Atkinson, 57, of Seabank Road, Fleetwood, said: “Claire had a panic alarm in her home and had just had the locks changed.

“The police didn’t want him (Entwistle) to be released. He’d just abducted her, driven her around for five hours and threatened to kill her with a knife sat on the back seat.

“He just bided his time. I’d go and meet her from work and walk her home. He was watching us. He would use different cars.”

Both couples hope their voices together can bring about changes to bail rulings to give victims and the Crown Prosecution Service the opportunity to appeal judges’ decisions.

Miss Clough’s parents, who are from Barrowford, have already got support from their local MP Andrew Stephenson who has presented a bail amendment bill in the House of Commons.

A petition to support the bill has 2,700 signatures.

Mr and Mrs Clough have organised a Justice for Jane conference at the De Vere Hotel in Blackpool on Thursday, during which Claire’s brother, Paul, will speak about the ineffectiveness of bail.

Mrs Clough added: “It’s fabulous Grenville, Kath and Paul are supporting us and letting us speak about Claire. I don’t want our girls to have died for nothing. They’re worth more than that.

“We are just ordinary families and we don’t want to be in this position. It hurts but we will not stop until we make a difference.

“They have got to listen to two families now. How many more families are there?”

Struggling to hold back tears, Claire’s mother, Kath Atkinson, 54, said: “When Claire walked into a room, it brightened up.

“It makes me so angry that man felt he had the right to make the decision to take her life and leave her boys without a mum. We want justice for Jane and Claire. We have doubled the voice now. It’s a ripple effect. It starts with Claire and us and her brother, Paul, and it goes on.”

Mrs Clough, 52, added: “Jane and Claire were so brave trying to carry on with their lives, knowing these men would try and do something to get them. They went to the law for protection from those evil men and it put them in more danger.

“Bail conditions are useless. These men don’t listen to the women they were supposed to have loved, they are not going to listen to a judge and bail conditions.

“There is nothing there for our girls. They were doing the right thing so why didn’t the justice system do the right thing for them.

“Bail conditions are letting dangerous men go and commit murder.

“The time has come when enough is enough. We have to do something – for our girls and for other girls out there.

“If it stops another family going through what we’re going through, it’s worth it.”

Other people speaking at the conference on Thursday include MP Esther McVey who is supporting the bail amendment bill, and Jean Taylor from Families Fighting For Justice.

Mr and Mrs Clough and close family and friends will pay their respects to Jane at a small church service today. This evening they will release lanterns in her memory.

n To sign the online petition go to www.petitiononline.co.uk/petition/justice-for-jane-clough/3123