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Leroy Griffith should be deported, says victim's father
The father of a murdered 21-year-old is launching a campaign to try to make sure the killer never returns to his hometown.
And Tim Webster has the backing of his MP as he tries to prevent Leroy Griffith from ever coming to Ilkley - if the murderer gets released from prison.
Griffth is eligible to apply for parole in 2016 after serving 14 years for stabbing Mark Webster to death outside a pub in Addingham in April 2002.
Mark was stabbed in the chest once with a kitchen knife by chef Griffith, as he tried to intervene in an incident outside the pub, and died almost instantly.
Griffith, who denied murder, was found guilty in Leeds Crown Court in December, 2002 and handed a minimum tariff of 14 years in prison.
Mark’s father says he hopes Griffith, who is originally from Barbados, is never released, but if he is then he wants him deported.
And he has the support of Keighley and Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins who says Griffith should never “set foot in Ilkley ever again”.
Mr Webster, 56, from Ilkley, said the pain of losing Mark “never goes away” as his family have struggled to come to terms with the tragedy.
It is understood Griffith has begun a rehabilitation course which he needs to complete before he could be eligible for release on licence, with a possible release date of March 31, 2016, when he is 51.
Mr Webster says the campaign is not about revenge, but from stopping more problems should Griffith try to return to Ilkley.
He is hoping recent changes on how judges should apply the European Convention on Human Rights should help his cause.
“I’m not trying to be vindictive,” he said.
“But for my sake and everybody else’s sake, do we want this man back in our town?”
Changes suggested by Home Secretary Theresa May and passed by the Government earlier this year, are designed to tell judges the right to a family life is not “absolute”.
There had been concerns that too many people were using Article 8 – the right to a family life – to avoid deportation. Last year 185 foreign criminals successfully appealed against deportation by invoking the article.
But the new rules now say: “Only in exceptional circumstances will private or family life, including a child's best interests, outweigh criminality and the public interest in seeing the foreign national criminal deported where they have been sentenced to a custodial sentence of at least four years.”
Mr Webster also believes his family, including Mark’s mother, will be able to put their case across in any parole hearings.
He explained the impact the loss of a son, brother and grandson had had on the family.
“It never goes away,” Mr Webster said.
“I often just wonder what he would be doing now. I’ve got grandchildren and you just think about all those sorts of things.
“There isn’t a day go by without thinking about it all.
“Griffith got a life sentence but we all got one. It doesn’t get any easier.”