'My mum was a victim of Coronation Street rapist and I need to stop his release'

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Andrew Barlow, formerly Longmire, was locked up in October 1988 (Image: MEN MEDIA)
Andrew Barlow, formerly Longmire, was locked up in October 1988 (Image: MEN MEDIA)

A woman is fighting to stop a serial rapist once dubbed Britain's most wanted man from being released from prison this month.

Andrew Barlow, formerly Longmire, was locked up in October 1988 and went on to be sentenced to 13 life terms for 11 rapes, three attempted rapes, indecent assault and using a firearm to resist arrest.

His tariff was fixed at 20 years and in the decades since he was linked to further offences as unsolved cases were re-examined.

Last month, parole chiefs said he has been classed as progressing "well" since being allowed out of jail temporarily on escorted trips, and confirmed his imminent release.

A daughter of one of his victims has now launched a petition to keep him behind bars, claimed her mum only found out that he was due to be released after receiving a Google news alert on her phone.

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'My mum was a victim of Coronation Street rapist and I need to stop his release'He was sentenced to 13 life terms (MEN MEDIA)
'My mum was a victim of Coronation Street rapist and I need to stop his release'The serial rapist is due to be released this month (MEN MEDIA)

She told the Manchester Evening News : "My mum was in her 20s at the time, a single parent. He broke into the house. His face was covered.

"After that my mum never felt safe. She was terrified whenever she came across a man in the street, thinking was it him."

Between 1981 and 1988 Barlow went on two separate campaigns of terror, raping women in five different counties.

The first was between 1981 and 1984 and the second between August 1987 and his arrest in January 1988, when he opened fire with a shotgun as two police officers detained him.

He was dubbed 'The Coronation Street rapist' as most of the victims were attacked in their own terraced homes, mainly in Greater Manchester. Two of the attacks took place in the street.

The woman continued: "I always remember that when my mum saw his face in the newspapers, she would have a panic attack and she had a breakdown when it was reported he was attempting to be moved [from a Category A prison].

"It has affected her deeply. She has had suicide attempts and periods of depression for which she needed medical help. We are concerned as a family what will happen if he is released. She may have another breakdown.

'My mum was a victim of Coronation Street rapist and I need to stop his release'Barlow often attacked women in their own terraced homes

"I do not believe a person like him can change. What he did was not opportunistic, but pre-meditated and carefully planned. He has been good in prison and got himself educated. So what?

"I think it is disgusting that he is coming out. I think the Parole Board is very naïve to think he can be managed outside.

"My mum is serving a life sentence. She is still living in the house she was moved to after the attack. She never returned to the home where she was attacked.

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"She found out about him being released from a news alert on her phone, which was the M.E.N. story. She was not contacted by the Parole Board, even though she has remained in the same address since moving in 1987.

"I do not believe he should be released, he remains a danger."

In her online petition, set up using a pseudonym to protect her mother's identity, the woman wrote that her mum "still has nightmares 30 years later".

She added: "The fact that she was not informed of the release and found out through a Google news alert, shows how much respect the justice system has for victims."

'My mum was a victim of Coronation Street rapist and I need to stop his release'Barlow was last sentenced at Bolton Crown Court in 2017 (MEN Media)

Barlow, who lived in Bolton and Oldham, was a Category A prisoner until this was downgraded to B in 2010.

He was given his final life sentence at Bolton Crown Court in October 2017, appearing via a video link.

The Parole Board confirmed his release, but a summary of the reasons why he is being granted his freedom after 34 years in custody reveals he has already had a taste of freedom.

The decision to release him was made on November 30 - the eighth time his case had been reviewed by the Parole Board since the expiry of his initial 20-year tariff.

A Parole Board Decision Summary said: "In 2020, a panel of the Parole Board considered his case and recommended transfer to open conditions. This recommendation was accepted by the Secretary of State and Mr Barlow was transferred to open conditions in January 2021.

"Following that move, he had successfully undertaken periods of temporary release where he was escorted by a prison officer. The panel heard how well he was progressing in open conditions.

"In June 2022, Mr Barlow was moved back to closed conditions. After hearing from witnesses and Mr Barlow, the panel concluded that the evidence did not support the reasons for the transfer back to closed prison.

"The panel examined the release plan provided by Mr Barlow’s probation officer and weighed its proposals against assessed risks.

"The plan included a requirement to reside in designated accommodation as well as strict limitations on Mr Barlow’s contacts, movements and activities. The panel concluded this plan was robust enough to manage Mr Barlow in the community at this stage."

The panel also considered evidence from a prison service psychologist.

A second psychologist commissioned on behalf of Barlow recommended his release.

The panel also considered a statement from a victim which conveyed the impact of Barlow’s crimes and the consequences of his offending.

His release is subject to licence conditions, which must be strictly adhered to.

They include residing at a designated address, to be of good behaviour, to disclose developing relationships, and to report as required for supervision or other appointments.

He will be subject to an enhanced form of supervision or monitoring including drug testing, signing-in times, GPS trail monitoring, polygraph testing and a specified curfew.

He must comply with other identified limitations concerning contacts, activities, residency and an exclusion zone to avoid contact with victims. He must also abide by specified restrictions relating to the use of electronic technology.

Commenting on the woman's mum finding out about Barlow's planned release via local media reports, a spokeman for the Parole Board said: "I’m sorry to hear that the victim found out that way.

"It is the responsibility of the Victim Contact Scheme within HMPPS to keep victims informed of any developments/decisions with a prisoner’s parole, so if the victim is engaged with the Victim Contact Scheme their Victim Liaison Officer should have informed them of the Parole Board’s decision."

Neal Keeling

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