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The 'monster' heading back to Britain: British teenager's family slam decision to deport murderer

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A man who killed a 19-year-old woman he met while on a night out only metres from her home is being deported back to the UK as a free man after being released from prison last month.

James Duggan, believed to be 36, was convicted in 2006 of murdering Rebecca Ryle after meeting her at a pub in Perth, Australia when he was a teenager.

Duggan, who emigrated to Australia from Liverpool, offered to walk Rebecca home on May 5, 2004, and then strangled her for more than three minutes in a park just by her house.

Duggan, now in his 30s, left his victim’s half-naked body in a field adjacent to a classroom about 50 metres away from her home, which was found by police a few hours later.

During the court case, Western Australian Supreme Court, Justice Lindy Jenkins described the crime as ‘bizarre’ when she jailed him for a minimum of 11 years and six months.

Justice Jenkins said the murder was every parent’s worst nightmare, adding Rebecca had died ‘alone and degraded’.

Duggan never fully explained why he killed her.

James Duggan is set to return to the UK after serving 16 years in prison in Australia for strangling Rebecca Ryle to death after a night out in 2004

James Duggan is set to return to the UK after serving 16 years in prison in Australia for strangling Rebecca Ryle to death after a night out in 2004

Rebecca Ryle, originally from Bolton, was killed when she was 19 just a short distance away from her family home in Perth

Rebecca Ryle, originally from Bolton, was killed when she was 19 just a short distance away from her family home in Perth

Rebecca's parents Francis and Marie (pictured) have never been given a reason by their daughter's killer for his actions

Rebecca’s parents Francis and Marie (pictured) have never been given a reason by their daughter’s killer for his actions

Before moving to Australia Rebecca’s parents, Falkland war vet Francis and GP receptionist Marie, were optimistic, having swapped Bolton for the sunny coast of Perth. 

Rebecca, who was hoping to take a nursing course at the local university in the future as she volunteered at a hospice back in the UK, had been feeling homesick before she died.

One Wednesday when she went to the local pub, the Boat, she met friend of a friend James Duggan, who was also 19 and also born in England.

When walking her home they went into the park across the road from Rebecca’s house, where he strangled her.

After, Duggan went to a petrol station where he bought some food and an adult magazine while waiting for a taxi.

In the two years between the murder and his trial, Duggan never explained his actions beyond the phrase ‘I don’t know’.

A parole board in Australia reviewed Duggan’s case on November 19, 2019 and the Attorney General decided not to release him due to his behaviour in prison, a return to substance abuse and offending.

He said: ‘Given the serious nature of the offence, Mr Duggan’s poor prison behaviour, uncertainty around the level of professional support that he would receive in England, lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing and apparent lack of remorse, I am not convinced Mr Duggan’s release to parole is appropriate at this time.’

The board reviewed Duggan’s case again in September 2021 and the Attorney General recommended his release from prison, along with two years on parole.

The new case included a psychological report, dated June 23 2021, where a senior forensic psychologist said Duggan had ‘engaged in a considerable amount of treatment’ and identified him as having a ‘moderate risk of violent reoffending’.

A report from the community corrections officer dated July 19, 2021, said Duggan ‘imparted remorse and regret towards the offence as well as acknowledging the victim’.

Duggan was released from prison on March 11, 2022, almost 18 years after he strangled Rebecca to death.

On the night she died, Rebecca had met friends at a local pub and was introduced to Duggan for the first time, who offered to walk her home

On the night she died, Rebecca had met friends at a local pub and was introduced to Duggan for the first time, who offered to walk her home 

Rebecca's death'utterly shattered' the family according to her brother Andy, who said Duggan'stole a life' and should not be allowed to start again

Rebecca’s death ‘utterly shattered’ the family according to her brother Andy, who said Duggan ‘stole a life’ and should not be allowed to start again

As part of his parole Duggan must have no direct or indirect contact with Rebecca’s family, be deported back to the UK from Australia, and to comply with any and all directions and restrictions now or in the future, made, issued or imposed by the Federal Government or Government of Western Australia.

Rebecca’s family have slammed the Attorney General’s ruling to let Duggan out of prison.

Her brother, Andy, told The Liverpool Echo: ‘It’s not an exaggeration to say that the loss of Rebecca destroyed our family. Our lives were utterly shattered, where so much happiness had once been.

‘We had come to Australia to start a new life, and within six months, it had been completely decimated. It had really gone from our dream life to a nightmare.

‘There’s no way of knowing the extent of the damage that the trauma has caused us and still continues to do so. The kind of effects that such a heinous and destructive crime has on your mental health is often overwhelming – especially when it’s clear that the person responsible continues to show no remorse or motive, nearly 20 years after the fact.’

When asked about how they felt hearing Duggan was released from prison, Andy said: ‘Anger. Sadness. Anxiety. Fury. The worst emotions possible really, and all the energy that has to be spent going through them. I find some small comfort in knowing this man will never set foot in Australia ever again, and my parents can rest easy knowing that they’ll never have to bump into him in the street.

‘However, I find it horrific that the alternative is that the British public is subjected to him, and that he can start afresh. I hope that by writing this, at least some people are made aware that this monster will be around.. He doesn’t deserve the opportunity to start again. He stole a life.’

Duggan is currently in an immigration detention centre in Australia, awaiting deportation back to the UK.

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