August 2023

Convicted murderer breached his sexual risk order

A murderer who strangled a teenager to death before leaving her half naked body in a field has walked free from court after breaching rules imposed on him by the courts.

James Duggan was found guilty of the murder of Rebecca Ryle in Australia back in 2006 and was jailed for life, having emigrated Down Under from Liverpool as a child.

He has since been released from this sentence and was deported back to the UK last year, but has continued to have brushes with the law.

Liverpool Crown Court heard today, Monday, that the now 38-year-old was subject to indefinite notification requirements in January this year after being convicted of breaching a sexual risk order (SRO) and battery.

Duggan, of School Lane in Rainhill, had been given this SRO in August 2022 following his return to this country due to a “sexual motive” behind the killing.

Shannon Stewart, prosecuting, described how he then failed to inform his offender manager of a relationship he had formed with a woman as he was required to do as part of the order, which the police became aware of after an incident in which he punched her in the stomach.

The killer was released from this 26-week sentence on July 11 and was required to sign the sex offenders’ register within the following three days, but failed to do so.

Duggan was subsequently arrested again on July 17 and told detectives under interview that he had “phoned probation but got no reply”. He has been remanded in custody since.

The defendant received life imprisonment with a minimum term of 11 years in April 2006, having been convicted of Ms Ryle’s murder.

The Western Australian Supreme Court heard during his trial that Duggan, who moved to the country from Merseyside aged 11, had met his 19-year-old victim in a pub in Perth on the evening of May 5, 2004 and offered to walk her home.

But he then strangled her for three minutes in a park just metres away from her home and left her half-naked body in a field, to be found by police officers a few hours later.

Justice Lindy Jenkins said she had died “alone and degraded”, with her murderer – who was also a teen at the time – ultimately serving nearly 18 years.

Duggan was refused parole following a hearing in 2019, due in part to his “lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing and apparent lack of remorse”. But his case was reviewed again in September 2021, when the Attorney General recommended his release after he had “imparted remorse and regret towards the offence, as well as acknowledging the victim” – leading to him being freed in March 2022 and later deported.

Duggan, who appeared in the dock wearing a white t-shirt and black Adidas tracksuit bottoms and sported greying dark hair and a beard, admitted failing to comply with notification requirement and failing to comply with a suspended sentence order.

He was handed a nine-month imprisonment suspended for two years, 180 hours of unpaid work, a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 30 days, a six-month alcohol abstinence requirement and a 12-month drug rehabilitation requirement as well as being told to complete a relationships programme.

Sentencing, Recorder David Knifton KC said: “This is not a case of going off the radar, it is simply a case of failing to notify the police of the address at which you were living. I am unable to accept that this is an inadvertent breach.

“You have a history of drug and alcohol misuse. This is your second breach in the first six months of the order being made.

“I am satisfied, given the acceptance on your part of the seriousness of your offending and your need to address your underlying issues, that this is a case in which I can suspend the sentence of imprisonment I must impose. There is, in your case, a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.”