Mark Ray Haydon, jailed over the Snowtown murders, has applied for early release.
Mark Ray Haydon, jailed over the Snowtown murders, has applied for early release.

Could this Snowtown predator really be set free?

A MAN jailed over the Snowtown killings that appalled Australia is seeking parole - and a legal loophole means the state government is powerless to prevent it.

Mark Ray Haydon has applied for early release from jail, much to the horror of the victims' families. He was one of four men convicted over the murders.

In 2004, a Supreme Court jury was unable to reach a verdict on whether Haydon was involved in the murders of his wife Elizabeth in November 1998 and of Troy Youde at Murray Bridge in 2001.

Haydon, 58, was convicted though of assisting serial killers John Bunting and Robert Wagner in seven of the 11 Snowtown murders.

Bunting, Haydon and Wagner were arrested after the chilling discovery of eight dismembered bodies hidden in acid-filled barrels in the vault of the former Snowtown bank.

Attorney-General John Rau investigated if a law passed in 2007 that was supposed to keep the state's most vile criminals locked up could be activated.

But because Haydon was convicted of "assisting" in the Snowtown serial murders not "aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring" - as required by the law - Mr Rau was told there was nothing that could be done.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rau, who is also the South Australian deputy premier, told "The Attorney-General has been advised that dangerous offender provisions would not apply in Mr Haydon's case."

That has triggered anger in South Australia where people see the wording of the legislation as a get out of jail card for some offenders.

Victims' Rights commissioner Michael O'Connell told the Adelaide Advertiser Mr Rau could still test the law, or have it changed in Parliament.

He said the public might consider the phrase "assisting" the same as "aiding" a murder. "Unfortunately, although a commonsense view suggests assisting murderers is similar to aiding and abetting them, the legal view probably differs,'' Mr O'Connell said.

"The Attorney-General could, however, consult on whether Haydon's case could be used to test the existing law or he could ask the parliament to amend the existing law.''

However, Mr Rau's spokeswoman told there had never been an application to the court "pursuant to the dangerous offender provisions".

"There are now arrangements for extended supervision orders and continuing detention orders in the Criminal Law (High Risk Offenders) Act where an offender's sentence has expired."

Haydon was sentenced to 25-years, but given 18-year non-parole period which expires later this month.

While Bunting and Wagner will never be released, another man jailed over the killings, James Vlassakis, will be eligible for parole in 2025.

The Parole Board will make a decision on Haydon's future at a hearing next month.

News Corp Australia

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