Family "petrified" as notorious Portsmouth murderer and fugitive Victor Farrant could be released from jail

One of Britain’s most notorious killer-fugitives could be released early from jail following the brutal murder of his former girlfriend in Portsmouth in 1996, The News has learnt.
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Victor FarrantVictor Farrant
Victor Farrant

Victor Farrant was Britain’s most wanted man after going on the run following the horrific murder of accountant Glenda Hoskins at her Port Solent home on February 7, 1996, before he was finally caught. Despite being handed a life sentence for which he was never meant to be released from jail, Farrant could now be freed on compassionate grounds due to him being diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaving the victim’s family “petrified”.

Iain Hoskins, Mrs Hoskins' eldest son, said the family are desperately trying to stop his release, with them believing the “dangerous” and “vengeful” murderer could strike again - putting them and the public at risk. It is not known where Farrant, formerly of North End, might go if released.

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The family said a decision on his release could be made as early as next week - leaving them hardly any time to come to terms with the shocking turn of events they only recently found out about. And due to his ill health, Farrant will not even be subject to the usual parole hearing to determine whether his release is safe, the family have said. However, the Ministry of Justice said any final decision would rest with the secretary of state.

In an email seen by The News, the Probation Service has written to the family asking them of possible exclusion zones they would like in the event the ruthless murderer is released into the public - rejected by the family as they are adamant he should die in prison. Meanwhile, Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has joined the chorus of those insisting the violent female-attacker should remain behind bars for the rest of his life.

Victor Farrant was sentenced to life in prisonVictor Farrant was sentenced to life in prison
Victor Farrant was sentenced to life in prison

A public protection meeting is scheduled to take place next week which could decide whether Farrant is released. Iain, speaking of the bombshell development, told The News: “My siblings and I, who were 13, 15 and 21 at the time that our mother was brutally murdered, have rebuilt our lives safe in the knowledge that he would remain behind bars forever.

“However, this week we’ve received startling information from our victim liaison officer that due to his ill health he is being considered for early release so that he can be cared for outside of prison. This will be reviewed and potentially decided at an multi-agency public protection meeting. There is no process for appeal or parole, and we have not been given any information about what this release would look like in terms of his supervision, the level of his illness and so on.

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“His release would cause huge anxiety and fear to us and our families. We would be extremely scared to have him out again. Friends of our mother’s would need police protection due to his previous behaviour of vengeance.

“His past behaviour of reoffending with no remorse or fear of retribution make him still a dangerous man who could repeat again. This is a very dangerous situation for the public.

“Our family was badly let down by the prison system and the Home Office before. If he hadn’t been let out early and without supervision previously our mother would still be alive.

“It seems that again this vile man is being released early without serving his full sentence - and this time without any parole hearing. My family is petrified.”

Glenda HoskinsGlenda Hoskins
Glenda Hoskins
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The reality that Farrant has terminal cancer has not provided any comfort to the family. “He's been let out to die because he has terminal cancer, apparently, but we have no detail as to what that actually means - some people can live 10 years with such a diagnosis,” Iain said.

“And if they are talking about exclusion zones then clearly he is fit and able enough to walk, move and travel around - which again is concerning as to why he should be released. It's also rubbish to say that prisoners don't die 'inside' with terminal illnesses as they do all the time. None of it makes sense.”

Farrant, a Portsmouth labourer, drowned Mrs Hoskins, a 45-year-old mum of three, under water in the bath after demanding sex from his ex-girlfriend. Farrant claimed she simply slipped in the bath and banged her head. Farrant, 46 at the time, then hid her body in the attic of her Port Solent home before fleeing the scene. Mrs Hoskins' 15-year-old daughter later found her mother's corpse wrapped in carpet in the loft of her Sennen Place home.

After the murder, Farrant, who lived in London Road, North End, took off in Mrs Hoskins’ car before driving along the south coast while stopping off to sell items he had stolen from her house. The killer then fled to Europe where he stayed in Brussels whilst moving on frequently.

The News' article following the murderThe News' article following the murder
The News' article following the murder
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Prior to the killing, Farrant was jailed for 12 years in 1988 for raping a woman and causing her grievous bodily harm as well as attacking another female with a bread knife. He met Mrs Hoskins on day release from prison in 1993, two years before his release from behind bars in 1995. 

Just a month after his release on December 27, 1995, Farrant went to visit sex-worker Ann Fidler in Eastleigh before attacking her with bottles and an iron. The attack was so ferocious she was left with partial brain damage and no memory of the incident. She needed a blood transfusion and was in a coma for over two weeks with doctors saying she was lucky to be alive.

Farrant, known as a “charmer”, then picked up his relationship with Mrs Hoskins, who was separated from her husband. But the relationship did not last and she moved on. Farrant was possessive and started stalking her before murdering her.

Farrant was Britain’s most high profile fugitive killer after going on the run in Europe. A national television appeal for information was broadcast on Crimewatch UK with posters for information sent to police forces across the continent as Interpol investigated.

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Police made direct appeals to Farrant to give himself up as 10 women across Britain were under police protection - with four of those frightened women living in Portsmouth. 

On July 5, 1996, an international arrest warrant was issued, and Farrant was arrested in the south of France by French police, and detained.

But it wasn’t until January 31, 1997, that Farrant was extradited to Britain and was flown into Southampton Airport with officers from Hampshire police. 

In 1998 after a trial at Winchester Crown Court, Farrant was jailed for life for Mrs Hoskins’ murder and given a further 18-years for the attempted murder of Mrs Fidler.

Glenda Hoskins with children Iain and Katie in 1982Glenda Hoskins with children Iain and Katie in 1982
Glenda Hoskins with children Iain and Katie in 1982
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Judge Mr Justice Butterfield said the murder of Mrs Hoskins was “a ruthless, callous and evil act” before adding: “This murder was so terrible and you are so dangerous that in your case the sentence of life imprisonment means just that. You will never be released.”

Iain insists the judge’s sentence should be upheld after revealing the horrific ordeal they all went through and still have to live with. He said: “In 1996 Victor Farrant, a repeat sex offender, raped and murdered our mother Glenda Hoskins in a pre-meditated horrific attack. Her naked dead body was discovered in the attic by my 15 year old sister and 13 year old brother when they came home from school that day. Six weeks before this he brutally attacked another woman Ann Fiddler and left her with life-long injuries.

“After fleeing the country causing a Europe-wide search through Interpol he was eventually caught and extradited. Then after a gruelling court case almost two years after our mother’s death he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Justice Butterfield, the judge at the time, said life should mean life.

“This was based on Farrant’s crimes and also that he had previously been imprisoned for rape and capture of another woman. He was released early and went on to reoffend within weeks – the victims being Ann Fiddler and our mother.”

Glenda Hoskins with her daughter KatieGlenda Hoskins with her daughter Katie
Glenda Hoskins with her daughter Katie
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Ms Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, is also calling for Farrant to remain behind bars. She told The News: “This man has a pattern of appalling violence against women including extremely violent assault leaving life changing injuries and the murder of Glenda Hoskins. He received a life sentence and I think the public would expect him to serve it.”

The Ministry of Justice said there had been no formal application for Farrant to be released at this stage and any final decision would rest with the secretary of state, with the process described as being at the "very early stages".  A spokesperson added: "Glenda Hoskins’ murder was a horrific crime and our thoughts remain with her family and friends.

“Prisoners are only released on compassionate grounds in exceptional circumstances following strict risk assessments and no formal application has yet been made in this case.”

The secretary of state may release a serving prisoner at any point in the sentence if they are satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist which justify the prisoner’s release on compassionate grounds, according to the Ministry of Justice. This can include if a prisoner’s health deteriorates to the point where they are either severely incapacitated or is suffering with a terminal illness and has a very limited life expectancy.

The decision to grant early release on compassionate grounds for health reasons is subject to a strict medical and risk assessment and very few releases are approved, the Ministry of Justice states.