Mum slams prison vote ruling

Mrs Gillbanks lost her daughter Donna Marie in 1977

Mrs Gillbanks lost her daughter Donna Marie in 1977

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A FURIOUS Blackpool mother whose child was raped and murdered by an evil paedophile today slammed the decision which could allow prisoners to vote.

June Gillbanks is still suffering with the mental torment of her daughter Donna Marie’s murder at the hands of her own brother in 1977.

Peter Chester has served 35 years for the murder of his niece and is one of the UK’s longest serving prisoners.

And Mrs Gillbanks, of Kinross Crescent, Marton, has fought a desperate campaign to deprive him and other inmates a right to vote.

But her hard work could be undone after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said the UK’s blanket ban on prisoners going to the ballot box was unlawful.

Mrs Gillbanks told The Gazette: “I don’t think it’s right they might get to vote.

“It seems like people don’t understand the impact this would have on victims and their families.

“They don’t consider their victims. A lot of them are scum and don’t deserve anything.

“My daughter was a victim and she wasn’t given a choice when he decided what he was going to do.

“Prisoners shouldn’t be given the right to chose anything again – why should they be given their rights back?”

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The Government now has to consider whether it will comply with the decision or face paying more than £150m in compensation to prisoners.

Mrs Gillbanks, 59, whose daughter was raped and murdered in her Mereside home, says the Government should support victims.

She said: “This shouldn’t happen at all because if prisoners are given the right to vote, it could lead to a Government coming in who are soft on crime.

“Prison is supposed to be a punishment and it just looks like they are after anything they can get while they are in there.

“I have to be involved in parole hearings every year when Chester applies for it and it’s not fair that victims have to listen to what prisoners want.”

Last year Chester lost his own bid for the right to vote at the Court of Appeal.

But three judges unanimously dismissed the case and refused him permission to go to the Supreme Court.

Chester’s legal team said denying him a vote was a “disproportionate” reaction and violated his human rights.

The European Court’s ruling in Strasbourg has led to widespread condemnation from British politicians.

Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, said: “I’m not happy about it, but I’m not sure what can be done to change the decision.

“The issue is very straightforward.

“People who are given significant sentences should be deprived of their rights and this includes losing the right to vote.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys added: “I regard voting as a civil right, not a human right.

“While I welcome what the European Court of Human Rights had to say regarding votes for prisoners being an issue for national Governments, I am troubled by their continued insistence on the blanket ban being overturned.

“Parliament voted to retain a blanket ban and it is not the place of the European Court to challenge this.”

A six-month deadline was set by the ECHR on Tuesday when it ruled against an Italian murderer who had been denied the right to vote because he was serving more than three years.

Franco Scoppola had argued his ban on voting due to his life sentence was unlawful.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office, which is scrutinising the court’s decision, said: “This is a judgment which is for the Italian Government to implement.

“But we will consider it carefully, and its implication on the issue of prisoner voting in the UK.”

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