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Execution' duo's jail terms reduced

PUBLISHED: 17:35 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:19 25 August 2010

TWO killers who executed an accountant at his home in 1992 won a cut in the length of time they must serve behind bars before being considered for parole.

TWO killers who executed an accountant at his home in 1992 won a cut in the length of time they must serve behind bars before being considered for parole. However, the decision at London's High Court means they will still have to remain behind bars for at least 18 years before parole is considered.

Stephen James Playle, a 46-year-old Falklands veteran from Sidcup, and his co-accused Michael Crossley, 45, of Northfleet, were jailed for life at Liverpool Crown Court in April 1997 for the murder of father-of-two David Wilson, from Lancashire. Mr Wilson was shot at his home, Withnell Villa in Chorley, on March 5, 1992 in what was described as an "execution" after he returned from an evening out with his wife, one of his daughters and a young man, the court heard last Thursday. At London's High Court Mr Justice Davis set the tariffs that the pair must serve in prison before they are considered for parole at 18 years, less just over a year spent in custody prior to sentence.

The earlier tariff had been set by the Home Secretary at 20 years. In doing so, the judge said that the two men were only "foot-soldiers" in a scheme planned by men named Austin and Shepke.

He said: "This was a most serious case, with very significant aggravating features: a contract killing, use of guns, masked men terrorising a family to achieve the intended murderous result." He said that there should be a "significant difference" between the minimum sentences that must be served by Austin, and those to be served by Playle and Crossley. Austin's tariff was set at 24 years. The court heard the victim's other daughter, Michelle, was also at the house at the time of the murder.

Two masked men forced their way in, bound Michelle and then waited until Mr Wilson and the rest of the family returned. They then bound the others but only tied Mr Wilson up by his hands, took him out to a nearby garage and shot him. The murder was said to have been procured by an American conman.

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