My children's killer must die in jail, says tragic Shropshire father

Telford | News | Published:

Distraught Shropshire father Michael Tranter today called for the man who murdered his four children to die in jail.

Mr Tranter with an image of the children he is still mourning. His ex-wife and four children were killed in Cornwall.

Mr Tranter said the high court battle over the legality of whole-term prison sentences for the worst murder cases had brought his own family tragedy back into sharp focus.

Murderer – Lee Ford was given five life sentences

Now that it has been declared legal to impose sentences which mean murderers die in prison, Mr Tranter said the same penalty should apply to the man who killed his family.

Sarah-Jane, 17, her 16-year-old sister Anne-Marie and their brothers Steven, 14, and Craig, 13, along with their mother Lesley, were killed by their stepfather Lee Ford in September 2000.

Ford was given five life sentences and told he would serve a minimum of 35 years before being considered for parole.

But, crucially, he was not sentenced to a whole-life term, which means he could be released in the future.

"I can't get closure," said Mr Tranter, of Newdale, Telford. "I have got a thing in my head that says he probably won't ever come out, but I would rather know that for sure.

Craig Tranter, 13, Anne-Marie Tranter, 16, Sarah-Jane Tranter,17 and Steven Tranter with their mother, Lesley Ford, 36


"I would rather know that he won't come out – he shouldn't come out."

The murder of Wellington teenager Georgia Williams has brought the issue even closer to home for Mr Tranter.

Georgia's killer, Jamie Reynolds, received a whole-life term after he admitted murdering the former head girl at his home in Wellington in May.

Although Reynolds' solicitors said he had no intention of appealing the sentence, the case was reconsidered alongside all the other whole-life terms which have been imposed.


A similar sentence was imposed on Mark Bridger, who killed Mid Wales five-year-old April Jones.

Court of Appeal judges last month overturned a European Court of Human Rights decision that whole-life sentences were unlawful.

Delivering the ruling, Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas said judges could continue to give whole-life sentences for the 'most heinous' crimes.

The decision was welcomed by Georgia's parents Steve and Lynnette Williams.

Mr Williams said: "Life should mean life," he said. "It's the most serious punishment that anybody can get in this country and that's because it's for the most serious crimes.

"If you give them anything less than that, it's devaluing the life of the victim."

Further coverage inside Saturday's Shropshire Star

Mr Tranter's children and their mother were last seen alive at the end of August 2000. The bodies of Lesley and the boys were found in the garden shed of her home in Cornwall, and the two girls were found in a shallow grave in a nearby field. Lesley had been beaten to death with her daughter's rounders bat.

The children had all been strangled, from behind, with a piece of rope.

Mr Tranter's call comes as psychopathic serial killer Joanna Dennehy, who also attempted to murder two men in Hereford, was yesterday ordered to serve the rest of her life in prison for murdering three men before randomly selecting and attempting to kill two others.

Michael and Lesley Tranter’s wedding day

Mr Justice Spencer told Dennehy she was "a cruel, calculating, selfish and manipulative serial killer" as he sentenced the 31-year-old at the Old Bailey.

Dennehy, who laughed and smirked as the judge delivered his sentencing remarks, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to the murders of Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, in and around Peterborough over a 10-day period last March.

Police launched a nationwide hunt to find her after the bodies were discovered in remote ditches in Cambridgeshire but she went on to drive 140 miles to Hereford where she repeatedly stabbed two dog walkers.

Dennehy, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, also admitted two counts of attempted murder and preventing the lawful and decent burial of her murder victims.

Three men were also sentenced for helping in her killing spree.

The killer, who has been diagnosed with various psychopathic disorders and had seemed relaxed throughout the hearing, muttered and smirked as sentence was passed.

Gary Stretch, 47, of Riseholme, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, was found guilty of the attempted murder of Robin Bereza and John Rogers after helping Dennehy select her victims in Hereford.

He was also convicted of three counts of preventing the lawful burial of a body at the trial at Cambridge Crown Court.

The judge ordered him to serve life in prison, with a minimum term of 19 years.

Michael Tranter with the headstone to his children. The tragedy happened 13 years ago.
  • See more on this story inside Saturday's Shropshire Star

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