Fight to keep murderer behind bars after 29 years

THE Queensland Parole Board has questioned a judicial direction to reconsider parole for a Darling Downs man who horrifically raped and murdered a woman almost 30 years ago.

James Patrick McGrane, now 46, bound and gagged a 21-year-old woman, raped her and then stabbed 11 times in the back, chest and sides.

Her naked body was found on the bedroom floor of a pottery shop at Hodgson Vale, on Toowoomba's southern outskirts, on March 26, 1986.

Justice Philip McMurdo set aside the parole board's decision to refuse McGrane, who was 17 when he went into prison, parole in a judicial review he handed down in February.

He ordered the board review the application, suggesting they should have considered strict supervision conditions similar to those faced under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003 should it decided to release McGrane.

Barrister Mark Hinson, acting for the parole board, argued in the Queensland Court of Appeal on Tuesday that the judge had erred in making that suggestion regarding McGrane's application.

He said there was no availability for McGrane to live in the heavily supervised Wacol precinct where dangerous sex prisoners were housed after release from prison proper.

Mr Hinson said McGrane also could not live with his mother or relatives and could not live at a care facility in Brisbane.

He said while a psychiatrist and psychologist offered the parole board various options to prepare McGrane for a return to the community on parole, they had suggested things that were either not possible or did not exist at this time.

"There is nothing in the psychiatric reports or other material which suggests what conditions might be imposed which would be effective to reduce the level of risk to something capable of being considered an acceptable level," he said.

"The board's function was to deal with the application as made ... the board's function was not to speculate or go off on some inquiry about what conditions might be imposed (to lower the risk)."

The court heard McGrane was deemed a low risk of rape or murder but was a moderate to high risk of violent, aggressive outbursts.

Matt Black, counsel for McGrane, said the justice identified material that was sufficient to raise a possible set of parole conditions.

"The question, in my submission, is not whether the evidence supports a finding that this possible regime would produce an acceptable level of risk," he said.

"The question rather is whether the material for the board is sufficient to raise that as a question for it to consider."

The Court of Appeal reserved its decision.

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