A paedophile bus driver who murdered an eight-year-old boy before befriending the child’s parents could be released from prison within weeks. Darren Vickers was given a life sentence for the May 1997 abduction and murder of eight-year-old Jamie Lavis, a schoolboy from Openshaw, Greater Manchester, whom he groomed and snatched after he boarded the bus he was driving.
Now 56, he has already served his minimum 25-year-period behind bars, and he could be released as early as February.
Jamie disappeared on a bank holiday Monday and his body was only discovered two years later.
In the days after his disappearance Vickers played the part of an innocent bus driver who was haunted by the knowledge that he was the last person to see the boy before he went missing.
Vickers went on TV to speak for Jamie’s parents and urged the public to help find him and took part in searches which he knew would be fruitless.
The sick killer even moved in with Mr and Mrs Lavis and slept in their bed, with them sleeping on the sofa.
This meant that having tricked Jamie into staying on his bus all day, before sexually assaulting and murdering him, the paedophile could revel in his parents’ torment for months, while staying updated on the police investigation.
The Manchester Evening News reports that the Parole Board will spend a day assessing Vickers case early next year.
At the time of Jamie’s murder detectives said that Vickers would have killed again if he had not been brought to justice.
Speaking to the MEN, former police officer Asif Hussain, 60, who was the Lavis family’s family liaison officer, says he never trusted Vickers – and argues he should never be freed.
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Mr Hussain said: “Vickers will be a danger to children for the rest of his life.
“He was a married man with two children of his own and yet he was able to take the life of another child. He can never be rehabilitated in my opinion.”
“Darren Vickers was a very manipulative person,” Mr Hussain added.
“I thought that the first time I met him. I knew he was a wrong ‘un straight away. I went to the detective in charge and told him Vickers had done it. At that time I had two young children of my own.
“It was a very stressful time. I had to deal with the family and at the same time deal with Vickers, who had moved in. It was awful. I pretended to be his friend. I couldn’t be nasty to him otherwise the family would have told me to leave. I couldn’t leave. I had to keep an eye on what was going on.”
When Vickers was jailed, Jamie’s mother Karen told the MEN: “I was destroyed when Jamie went missing and when I found out he was dead. For five months I lived through pure hell wondering what had happened to him. My life was in limbo, and I was helpless.”
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Jamie’s remains were found in undergrowth at Reddish Vale, Greater Manchester, in 1999.
Vickers was jailed for life, with a minimum prison term of 25 years.
In 2018 a TV documentary called Faking It: Tears Of A Crime, examined how the killer tried to get away with what he had done.
A Parole Board spokesperson said: “An oral hearing has been listed for the parole review of Darren Vickers and is scheduled to take place in February 2023.
“Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.
“A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behavior change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.”