A murderer who once worked as an aide to Sarah Ferguson could be freed from her life sentence within weeks after applying for early release – but one prisons expert argues it will be at least another three years before she is in any realistic position to be freed.
Jane Andrews, 46, who stabbed her wealthy lover Thomas Cressman to death in a row over marriage, has reportedly applied for release after reaching the minimum 12 years in prison recommended as part of the life sentence she was given in 2001.
Although she will still have to convince a parole board that she is no longer a danger to society, Andrews, who had a similar release request turned down in 2012, could be back on the streets within weeks.
Andrews became a close friend and confidante of the Duchess of York during nine years as her employee – joining her on royal duties both in the UK and abroad.
In 2000, after Mr Cressman refused to get married, she clubbed the 39-year-old businessman unconscious with a cricket bat at their home in Fulham, west London. She then stabbed him to death.
During an argument in the hours before the murder, Cressman called police saying ‘somebody is going to get hurt’, but officers decided not to attend the scene.
Andrews attacked her boyfriend just a few hours later while he was sleeping.
Shortly after the killing, Andrews contacted her ex-husband Christopher Dunn-Butler and sent out text messages to friends inquiring about her lover’s whereabouts and well-being.
She claimed to have had no involvement in Cressman’s death and said she believed he was being blackmailed.
After she disappeared for several days during the police investigation, officers launched a manhunt and finally located her in Cornwall, where she was found overdosed in her car.
After her recovery and a subsequent police interrogation, Andrews was arrested for murder.
During her trial at the Old Bailey, the court heard Andrews had a history of depression and violent mood swings, and had made several suicide attempts and threats.
Speaking to Jeremy Armstrong at the Mirror, Mr Cressman’s brother Rick said he was ‘disappointed’ Andrews was applying for early release.
He said: ‘She remains a seriously dangerous individual and shouldn’t be freed… we have to live the rest of our lives without Tommy. That’s our life sentence.’
Expressing his anger that Andrews was applying for early release again despite being turned down two years ago, Mr Cressman added: ‘The justice system allows for people who have committed heinous crimes the opportunity to have parole. As a family we can’t do anything about that.’
Andrews is understood to held at Send Prison in in Surrey, having been moved for East Sutton Park open prison after absconding in 2009.
Andrews spent two days on the run before being returned to the prison, although the Crown Prosecution Service said she would not face additional charges after considering psychiatric reports.
The Parole Board confirmed their review was ‘currently ongoing’, adding that Andrews remained in ‘closed conditions’.
Born to a working class family in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, Andrews was 21 when she answered a personal advert in The Lady for a personal dresser.
She was hired by the Duchess of York six months later and was a trusted member of her inner circle until being made redundant in the late 1990s as part of a Buckingham Palace cost-cutting exercise.
Andrews’ murder trial attracted huge media attention at the turn of their millennium, seemingly as much for the glamorous circles she moved in over the previous decade as for the brutal killing itself.
Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said he thought it ‘highly unlikely’ that she would be freed any time soon.
Mr Leech said: “It is highly unlikely she will be freed any time soon even though she is now post-tariff – that is, has served in excess of her minimum term.
“She remains in closed conditions following her abscond from East Sutton Park in 2009, and that in itself is a huge indicator that she is not yet considered suitable to be trusted.
“Realistically I suspect we are looking at a minimum of three more years before she is in any realistic position to be released – and she will have to be tested in an open prison again for at least a couple of years before release becomes any kind of possibility.”