Child killer fails in sentence challenge

A SADISTIC child killer who indecently assaulted a three-year-old before throwing her into a river has failed in a challenge against his 30-year minimum jail term at London's High Court.

Anthony Bond

A SADISTIC child killer who indecently assaulted a three-year-old before throwing her into a river has failed in a challenge against his 30-year minimum jail term at London's High Court.

Xavier Themis, 50, then known as Gary Hopkins, was convicted of murdering Leoni Keating in June 1986 at Ipswich Crown Court.

He abducted the girl from a caravan park in Great Yarmouth and her body was found four days later in a river near Mildenhall.


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Initially he was told that he would die behind bars but Themis later had his tariff - the minimum time he must spend behind bars before being considered for parole - reduced by then Home Secretary Michael Howard to 30 years in 1994.

At London's High Court yesterdayThemis attempted to have his tariff slashed even further with his lawyers telling Mr Justice Field that he had made such good progress behind bars it should be cut.

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The judge was also told that there was a possibility that Themis - who has a high IQ - was suffering from Asperger's syndrome at the time of the killing.

But describing the murder as “sheer evil” and “horrific”, Mr Justice Field said Themis was fit to stand trial at the time his case went to court and would have had no defence of diminished responsibility.

He added that the way he had conducted himself in prison had not been “exceptional” enough to justify a cut in his tariff.

On Friday September 13, 1985, Themis took Leoni from a caravan on the Seashore Holiday Camp at Great Yarmouth.

Her body was found four days later in the River Lark at Barton Mills. near Mildenhall. She had been gagged, her hands were tied up with a washing line and she had been sexually assaulted.

A police search was launched and a search of the waterway and nearby picnic site was undertaken for vital missing clothing. Eight months later unemployed labourer Hopkins, from Bedford, was given four life sentences for abducting and murdering Leoni - and for the kidnap of a 10-year-old girl from an Essex caravan site and kidnap of a 14-year-old girl from a Great Yarmouth caravan site. Hopkins had admitted kidnapping Leoni but denied murdering her. He claimed he left her alive but with her hands tied in woodland.

Given the time he spent on remand before sentencing, yesterday'sruling means that Themis -27 at the time of the murder - can seek parole in 2016. He will only be freed once he has convinced the authorities he is no longer a danger to the public.

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