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Killer wins bid to get prison sentence cut
10:00am Tuesday 7th August 2012 in Didcot
A MURDERER who killed a homeless teenager and dumped his body in a ditch 10 years ago has had his prison sentence cut.
Leon Paige, formerly of King Walk in Didcot, was convicted of repeatedly stabbing Richard Parker, 18, after he “grassed” a friend to police for shoplifting.
Paige was found guilty alongside Steven Knott, of Druids Walk, Didcot, in 2003, and both were sentenced to serve a minimum of 12 years behind bars.
The trial judge at Oxford Crown Court said they had shown “a total absence of human feeling” for their victim.
But Paige, now 26, has had his sentence cut to a minimum of 11 years after a High Court review, because of his good behaviour in prison.
He could now be freed in January 2014, but will only be released if the parole board is sure he no longer poses a risk to society.
Mr Justice Akenhead, delivering the ruling at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Friday, said Paige’s progress in custody had been “exceptional and unforeseen”.
The court heard Paige had completed a range of courses and earned the praise of prison staff for “maturity and politeness”.
Mr Justice Akenhead also said Paige had expressed remorse for the crime.
He said: “Of course, while I am intensely sympathetic about the victim and his friends and family, and I am and remain wholly aware that this was a very serious crime, this review primarily concerns the offender and his development while in custody.”
He said he had received representations from Mr Parker’s loved ones “strongly opposing” any reduction in Paige’s jail tariff.
But, he said of Paige: “I can properly form the view that, compared with his position, character and maturity in 2002, he has made exceptional and what would have been unforeseeable progress.”
Paige and Knott were both 16-year-old members of a shoplifting gang when they lured their victim into a car.
They faked a breakdown, then attacked him with a knife and bottles in a country lane near Reading in June 2002.
Paige inflicted nine stab wounds.
Mr Parker, who had learning difficulties, was described as “a gentle, simple, 18-year-old” who had spent much of his life in care.
His body was found in a ditch under a sleeping bag.
He had been sleeping rough but had lived in Crowmarsh Gifford, near Wallingford, and also in Banbury.
Knott had a challenge against his conviction dismissed by London’s Criminal Appeal Court in 2004.
He also failed in a bid to have his sentence cut on good behaviour grounds in 2010.
If released, Paige will remain on life licence and could be sent back to prison if he offends again.