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Peter CHESTER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Also known as Peter Chester Speakman
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 29, 1977
Date of birth: 1955
Victim profile: His niece Donna Marie Gillbanks, 7
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Blackpool, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term 20 years in March 1978
 
 
 
 
 
 

Peter Chester (born 1955 in Blackpool, Lancashire, England) is a convicted murderer who launched a campaign for prisoners to be given the right to vote.

Chester, a married man, raped and murdered his niece Donna-Marie Gillbanks at the home of his sister June Gillbanks in October 1977. He then fled the flat on Mickleden Road having left Donna-Marie (aged seven) in her bed, where she was later discovered by her mother.

He was found guilty of rape and murder at Chester Crown Court in March 1978 and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term 20 years, but remains imprisoned more than 30 years after his conviction as Parole Board reports have stated that the risk he poses is still too high for him to be granted parole.

He launched his legal challenge to gain prisoners the right to vote in October 2009, and the decision on whether the challenge has been successful will be made by the European Court of Human Rights. However, it has been met by a frosty reception by many corners of the media and public, particularly Donna-Marie's relatives and members of the community where the crime was committed.

 
 

Blackpool mother criticises killer's appeal hearing

BBC.co.uk

April 5, 2011

A woman whose brother raped and murdered her seven-year-old daughter 33 years ago has said she believes he should never be released from jail.

Peter Chester, 56, is serving life for raping and strangling Donna Marie Gillbanks in Blackpool in 1977.

A judge at the High Court ruled on Monday that he had the right for his appeal to be heard by the Parole Board.

June Gillbanks said she believed her brother was still a risk, despite him claiming he had changed.

Chester has had seven applications for parole or to be sent to a less secure jail rejected.

The latest review took place in May last year with the Parole Board finding he was unsuitable for release or for a recommendation that he should be transferred to open conditions.

'Entitled to everything'

Chester applied for an oral hearing with the Parole Board to assess the risk he posed, but was again turned down.

Judge John Behrens upheld his challenge at the High Court.

During the hearing, Chester said he had changed, having served more than 30 years in prison.

But Ms Gillbanks, of Blackpool, said: "In 2006, the Parole Board hearing said he was still considered a very high risk to children, the public and known adults."

She said she felt "totally devastated" when she was told by her local newspaper he had been given the right to the hearing.

"I would like to be at the parole hearing so I can speak for my daughter Donna Marie," she said.

"He is entitled to everything and I am entitled to nothing and that is what I don't like."

Ms Gillbanks said she was still haunted by her daughter's death, and still had flashbacks of finding her body in her bedroom.

"It has been nothing like a nice life at all. Obviously I think about her every day," she said.

 
 

Blackpool child murderer granted appeal hearing

BBC.co.uk

April 4, 2011

A man serving life for raping and murdering his seven-year-old niece has won the right to an appeal after serving more than 30 years in prison.

Peter Chester, 56, is serving life for raping and strangling Donna Marie Gillbanks in Blackpool in 1977.

His plea for parole or to be sent to a less secure jail has been reviewed seven times and turned down.

Judge John Behrens told the High Court that Chester now deserved an oral hearing before the Parole Board.

He told the court that the latest review took place in May last year "on paper", with the Parole Board finding he was unsuitable for release or for a recommendation that he should be transferred to open conditions.

Chester applied for an oral hearing with the Parole Board to assess the risk he poses, but was again turned down.

His barrister, Flo Krause, challenged that decision in court, saying he had been in jail for 33 years and "might well have changed".

She said "fairness demands an oral hearing for Mr Chester".

Chester submitted his own representations to the judge in which he told "why he has changed over 30 years in prison".

He said if he were released he would have a completely different lifestyle and that he had a "realistic release plan".

Judge Behrens upheld his challenge at the court in London on Monday.

 
 

Blackpool child murderer loses right to vote bid

BBC.co.uk

December 17, 2010

A man serving life for raping and murdering his seven-year-old niece has lost his appeal over his right to vote.

Three judges unanimously dismissed Peter Chester's case and refused him permission to go to the Supreme Court.

Chester, 55, is serving life for raping and strangling Donna Marie Gillbanks in Blackpool in 1977.

His legal team said denying him a vote was a "disproportionate" reaction and violated his human rights.

The Court of Appeal hearing came the day after the government said it had no choice but to give "some prisoners" the vote following a European court ruling.

The European Court of Human Rights had ruled the current blanket ban on serving prisoners going to the polls was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Chester's lawyers argued the serious nature of his offence did not justify disenfranchising him.

But Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice Carnwath and the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger dismissed his appeal.

Chester, also known as Peter Chester Speakman, has served 33 years in jail.

The High Court rejected his claim over voting last year.



 
 

Convicted murderer loses vote bid

BBC.co.uk

October 28, 2009

A convicted murderer has lost a legal battle to be given the right to vote in elections while serving a prison term.

Peter Chester was jailed in 1977 for raping and strangling his niece in Blackpool and is deemed too dangerous to be allowed out of jail on licence.

Lawyers for Chester had argued the ban breached the inmate's human rights.

But Mr Justice Burton threw out the claim, saying Chester's legally-aided application had been "wholly inappropriate" and offensive.

Ministers are already considering changing the law after a European Court of Human Rights ruling in 2005 described the existing law that bars all inmates from voting as a blunt instrument.

Dismissing Chester's argument on all grounds, the judge said the case would have cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds and amounted to an "impermissible" attempt to force the courts to interfere with Parliament.

He said that it was entirely up to Parliament to decide whether criminals sentenced to life imprisonment should be allowed to vote - and not for the courts to change the law.

Chester's bid had been "offensive to constitutional principles" and a pre-emptive strike to try to force the government's hand, he said.

Mr Justice Burton also refused permission to appeal, saying: "The application is hopeless."

Child killer

Chester, also known as Peter Chester Speakman, had denied raping and killing seven-year-old Donna Marie Gillbanks, who was found strangled at her home in Blackpool in 1977.

He has passed his minimum 20 year tariff but the Parole Board has refused to release him on licence from Wakefield Prison.

He began his legal campaign to vote after another prisoner, John Hirst, won his 2005 case at the European Court of Human Rights. Hirst successfully argued that the bar on all prisoners voting was discriminatory because it did not take into account that some may have been rehabilitated.

That European Court ruling led to a two-stage Ministry of Justice consultation on how to best change.

The consultation, which recently ended, set out a number of options, including allowing prisoners who are sentenced to up to four years the right to vote.

But ministers categorically ruled out giving the vote to anyone serving more than four years or jailed for life.

Lawyers for Chester had argued that, irrespective of that consultation, the courts were obliged to reinterpret the existing law because of what the European Court said in 2005.

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "It's now over five years since the Victorian blanket ban on prisoners voting was declared unlawful so it is hardly surprising that some prisoners are challenging the delay by going back to the courts.

"The government is desperately trying to kick this issue into the long grass because it's more worried about the politics of giving prisoners the vote before the next general election."

 
 

Murdered girl's mum helps others

BlackpoolGazette.co.uk

May 23, 2008

JUNE Gillbanks has been forced to live with a pain that mercifully few will ever have to endure. Since her daughter Donna Marie was raped and strangled 31 years ago, she has rarely been out of the news.

Her campaign to keep her daughter's killer behind bars has been high-profile and included a visit to Downing Street.

But, as she says, there are many victims of sickening crime who are left to face their heartache alone.

Despite the grief of losing her only child, June has found strength to reach out to become a confidante to others.

The 55-year-old said: "I'm feeling strong now and I want people to know I'm there for them.

"There needs to be a group in Blackpool run by victims, for victims."

Her passion comes from those who helped her.

June's brother, Peter Chester, has served 31 years in prison for the rape and murder of seven-year-old Donna Marie in her Mereside home in 1977.

The heartbroken mum, who now lives in Marton, has often found comfort from national group Support After Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM).

But with the nearest meeting taking place in Liverpool, she is hoping to set up a support group on the Fylde coast.

"I'm disabled now and it's too far to go to Liverpool," she added, "so it's important for there to be a support group in Blackpool.

"But not just for me, for the many other people who have to deal with similar things.

"What we need now is a room to hold the meetings and help getting office administration together. Then we can start helping people."

June has already begun a campaign to make sure murderous offenders like her brother, whose parole application will be considered this summer, are incarcerated for life.

She has started a petition to "make sure life means life" which she intends to take to the House of Commons.

June added: "Life should mean life. Small prison sentences are no deterrent. The only way they can be sure that they won't re-offend is by not letting them out.

"I'll take the petition down to London, I'll protest at Trafalgar Square."

In 1999, June, who suffers from arthritis and ME, travelled to London to join a rally supporting MAMA Mothers Against Murder and Aggression.

The march on Downing Street was backed by Ralph Bulger, father of murdered toddler James Bulger, and Terry and Danny Kilbride, brothers of Moors Murder victim John Kilbride.

June, who has suffered from stress since her daughter was murdered, added: "I was ill for a long time after it happened.

"Donna was my world. But now I've got my strength back. I'm fed up of all these innocent children getting murdered, strangled and raped.

"There have been so many since my precious Donna was taken from me and sadly there will be more in the future. It must stop now. "

Chester was married and lived on Lytham Road, South Shore, when he raped and murdered Donna Marie in her own bed at the family flat in Mickleden Road in October 1977.

He then placed his niece back under the bed covers as though she were asleep and put her favourite cuddly toy alongside her.

Chester, who is also known as Peter Chester Speakman, pleaded not guilty to the murder at his trial in March 1978, but a jury unanimously found him guilty. He was given a life sentence with a recommended minimum of 20 years.

The 53-year-old has now served 11 years over his recommended life sentence for the killing of his niece and earlier this year applied to be considered for parole.

June added: "This is why I want to get this petition going and reach out to anybody who wants to sign it mothers, fathers, hoteliers and businesses.

"I will fight till my dying breath to keep him behind bars and make sure all the others serve the proper sentences.

"I want to set this support group up and get a petition going in memory of Donna. But it's not just for my precious daughter, it's for all the other children and their families too.

"Things like this spilt families up and break up marriages. I want to help people and listen to them."

June's bid to set up a support group is already winning support.

Rose Dixon, of SAMM, said: "We would be delighted to speak with Miss Gillbanks about setting up a group in Blackpool.

"We would arrange a training day and then an introduction meeting where members could meet the local contact as well as representatives from the Parole Board and Victim Support."



 
 


Peter Chester

 

The victim


Donna Marie Gillbanks, 7.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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