Parents’ anguish as man who murdered their daughter is freed

Tracey Bonnell's parents Marie and Ken West
Tracey Bonnell's parents Marie and Ken West
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A couple whose daughter was brutally murdered by her husband are living in fear of coming face-to-face with him after he was freed – and 
allowed to live just miles away.

Marie and Ken West, of Bolton-le-Sands, had appealed to a parole board to have their daughter’s killer David Bonnell banned from going into Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Cumbria as part of the terms of his release after completing a 14-year prison term.

The former market trader and DJ, now 45, was released 10 weeks ago after being ‘jailed for life’ for bludgeoning Tracey, 23, with a piece of wood in November 1997.

Yet the family’s plea to have his exclusion zone made as broad as possible was turned down due to fears it could be “unlawful” and “disproportionate,” to his “reintegration into the community.”

Bonnell is barred from Lancaster, Morecambe and Bolton-le-Sands but is allowed to live, work or visit many others areas in Lancashire.

That includes Preston, a patch his former father-in-law serves regularly as a paramedic for the North West Ambulance Service and where Tracey’s brother Darren West, 37, works and other family members live.

Teaching assistant Marie, 57, of Church Brow, said: “The authorities have totally ignored us. It’s like a ticking time bomb now for us, knowing that he is out.”

Husband Ken, 60, said: “All we have asked for is to keep him out of our sight – England is big enough.”

Bonnell was 31 when he attacked his young wife and the mother of his two children, then aged five and four, at their home in Albert Road, Skerton.

A court heard he used a piece of wood and inflicted over 80 injuries but then tried to make it look like a robbery gone wrong by covering his tracks.

His recent release has left the Wests, who adopted the couple’s children, now 20 and 19, with the horrendous daily anxiety of a chance encounter. They are determined to have the exclusion zone decision overturned. Mrs West said: “We will complain, complain and complain again.”

Morecambe MP David Morris, who has made various representations to parliament about the case, is backing their stance. He wants Bonnell banned from the three counties to ensure the family don’t accidentally meet him and is pursuing it with ministers.

Mr Morris said: “I strongly believe this evil man should be in prison, but in the meantime he should be excluded from Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire.”

The Ministry of Justice insist Bonnell’s freedom comes with strict instructions to stay away from the Wests and not go near their homes.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The release of life-sentence prisoners and the conditions they must adhere to, including the setting of exclusion zones, are matters for the independent Parole Board.

“As part of the victim contact scheme, victims may request an exclusion zone to reduce the risk of them unexpectedly coming into contact with the offender.

“The supervising probation area can apply for exclusion zones to be amended after release, if appropriate. The final decision will be for the Parole Board.

“Offenders supervised by the probation service are subject to strict conditions and are liable to recall to prison if they breach them.”