The mother of Baby P, who died after months of abuse, is set to be freed from prison after the Parole Board rejected a Government challenge against its ruling to release her.
Tracey Connelly could be out of jail within weeks after board judges refused the bid by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab to keep her behind bars for longer.
But Mr Raab condemned the decision and said it was proof the Parole Board needed a “fundamental overhaul”.
Now 40, she was jailed at the Old Bailey in 2009 for causing or allowing the death of her 17-month-old son Peter at their home in Tottenham, north London, on 3 August 2007.
Connelly had admitted the offence and was handed a sentence of imprisonment for public protection with a minimum term of five years.
Her boyfriend Steven Barker and his brother Jason Owen were convicted of the same offence.
Who is Tracey Connelly?
Tracey Connelly gave birth to her son Peter on 1 March, 2006 and his biological father left a few months after.
In November Connelly’s new boyfriend Steven Barker moved in.
Known publicly as Baby P, he had suffered more than 50 injuries, despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police officers and health professionals over eight months.
Over an eight-month period, Baby P’s injuries included a broken back, broken ribs, gashes to the head, a fractured shinbone, a ripped ear, mutilated fingertips, skin torn from the nose and mouth, cuts on the neck and a tooth knocked out.
After Baby P’s death a post-mortem exam revealed he had swallowed a tooth after being punched.
A series of reviews identified missed opportunities for officials to save the toddler’s life had they reacted properly to warning signs.
According to a parole report, at the time of her crimes Connelly, then 25, got into relationships quickly, used sex to “help her feel better about herself” and had an “inability to control extreme emotions”.
She was also described as “manipulative” and lacking in empathy.
Where is Connelly now?
Although she is currently in jail, the Parole Board decision means she could be freed within weeks. Originally jailed in 2009, she has been released before.
She was released on licence in 2013 but recalled to prison in 2015 for breaching her parole conditions.
This related to “developing intimate personal relationships” online and inciting another resident at her accommodation to engage in “inappropriate sexualised behaviour”.
In March, the Parole Board decided Connelly was suitable for release after hearing she is now considered to be at “low risk of committing a further offence” and that probation officers and prison officials support the plan.
Where is Steven Barker?
He remains in jail. Barker recieved the longest sentence out of the three for his role in Peter’s death, which was 12 years.
However, shortly after he was also handed a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years for raping a two-year-old girl in a separate case.
What has been said about the decision to free Connelly?
Responding to the decision, Mr Raab said Connelly’s actions were “pure evil” and added: “The decision to release her demonstrates why the parole board needs a fundamental overhaul – including a ministerial check for the most serious offenders – so that it serves and protects the public.”
In March the Parole Board decided she was suitable for release, having rejected three previous bids.
But last month Mr Raab asked the board, which is independent of government, to re-examine the decision under the so-called reconsideration mechanism.
On Thursday the Parole Board announced that application had been rejected and the original decision upheld.
What was said in the parole ruling?
According to the parole ruling published on Thursday, previous reviews found Connelly had tried to hide a year-long relationship with another prisoner.
By the time of the 2022 hearing, justice officials found she had “clearly” been able to show progress in tackling her “tendency to be dishonest and manipulative” and had “engaged positively and openly with professionals”.
A prison psychologist said Connelly was “better prepared for release” than before and believed professionals would be able to “spot warning signs” while an official who had known her for seven years told of the “positive changes” she had observed in her “attitude, behaviour and thinking”.
Meanwhile, her prison supervisor said Connelly “understood the need to be open and honest and to keep a low profile in the community”, the ruling said.
But in the Government’s challenge, it warned that since the last review there had been a “further incident which very clearly demonstrates a willingness to deceive professionals, namely the sending of letters in violation of the prison rules and the content of those communications, which evidences an attempt by [the respondent] to keep her relationship with another prisoner under the radar so as not to damage her prospects with the Parole Board. The fact that that letter was written after the Parole Board review had commenced is highly material.”
The parole documents said she had disclosed the “intimate relationship with another prisoner” to staff at the “earliest reasonable opportunity” which was in “marked contrast to her previous failures to disclose such relationships”.
Will she be subject to conditions on her release?
A spokesman said in a statement: “Following the reconsideration application from the Secretary of State, a judge has ruled that the decision made by independent Parole Board members to release was not irrational, as stated in the reconsideration application, and the original decision is upheld.”
Connelly will be subject to restrictions on her movements, activities and who she contacts, and faces 20 extra licence conditions.
They include living at a specified address, being supervised by probation, wearing an electronic tag, adhering to a curfew and having to disclose her relationships.
Her use of the internet and a phone will be monitored, and she has been told she cannot go to certain places to “avoid contact with victims and to protect children”.