Eric Thomas Turner (pictured), was a quadruple murder and the last inmate in a NSW prison that had been sentenced to death. The death sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He was released but murdered again. In this case 'was' is the operative word as Turner has died in prison as a result of complications from lung cancer.
Turner was an evil man who killed his first person at the young age of 20 in 1948. His first victim was his then 15-year-old girlfriend, Claire Sullivan. His second victim was Frank Sullivan, Claire's father. He strangled Claire and he axed the father. He was sentenced to death on 15 December 1948.
His sentence was commuted to life in prison. I am not sure why there is no truth in sentencing and when a person is sentenced to life in prison then this is exactly what it means; you die there! However, maybe after 22 years behind bars the State felt sorry for the fella or believed him rehabilitated because he was released in 1970.
Turner seems to have kept out of trouble for a while. But, perhaps it is true, "once a killer always a killer," because 3 years after his release Turner killed his mother-in-law, Harriet Field, by stabbing her 11 times. Turner's stepson, John Pilz, tried to intervene to save his grandmother and Turner killed him as well.
Not surprisingly the community was somewhat outraged that Turner was released in the first place. Nevertheless, he was convicted and again sentenced to life imprisonment. This sentence was then redetermined. The life sentence remained but a non-parole period of 20 years was set. Therefore, since 1993 Turner has been eligible to seek parole. However, it was not until his illness had become too much for him that he had sort to be released on parole.
He did seek release in 2007. The application for release was refused.
Turner was the longest serving prisoner in the NSW correctional system. However, the title of the longest continuous serving prisoner goes to the 84-year-old William "The Mutilator" McDonald. McDonald was sentenced in 1963 to life in prison for the murder of four homeless men.
As I said, I wonder what it must be like to spend so much time behind bars?