EXCLUSIVE: Killer who murdered woman has parole hearing delayed

Sadistic killer who raped a woman then stabbed her 60 times in frenzied Christmas Day murder has his parole hearing delayed

A sadistic killer who brutally raped a woman before stabbing her 60 times in a frenzied 1997 Christmas Day murder has had his parole hearing delayed, MailOnline can reveal today.

Twisted farm worker Steven Ling, then 23, carved images including swastikas and crosses into Joanne Lip’s body during his depraved attack at his home in Stamfordham, Northumberland. 

Ling was jailed for life a year later and told he must serve a minimum of just under 18 years before being eligible for parole.

Last year, the Parole Board recommended his release to an open prison in a decision overturned by then Justice Secretary Dominic Raab.

Ling’s latest parole hearing was due earlier this month and was to be held in public, despite the killer expressing his anxiety about a public hearing – and insisting that he would feel  ‘inhibited’ when he gave evidence.

Twisted farm worker Steven Ling carved images including swastikas and crosses into Joanne Lip’s body during his depraved attack at his home in Stamfordham, Northumberland 

Caroline Chair of the Parole Board said in a statement: ‘Although there were sexual elements to the index offence, because the rape charge was left to lie on file, if released, Mr Ling would not appear on the Sex Offenders Register.

‘It is in the interests of justice for this situation to be better understood by the public.’

The reasons behind the decision to adjourn the new parole hearing were not explained by the board but are believed to be linked to its complexity and ‘sensitive nature.’

At Newcastle Crown Court, it was revealed that Ling admitted to raping Joanne, but the charge was allowed to lie on file by the trial judge because the murder was the greater charge – meaning if Ling is released from prison he will not be on the Sex Offenders’ Register. 

Joanne’s mother Doreen Soulsby has campaigned to keep Ling in prison. She told LBC Radio in December 2022: ‘It’s not until later on that you think ‘my God, he’s not a convicted sex offender’.’

It is also feared that Ling will follow the example of Jon Venables, one of the killers of toddler James Bulger, who failed to turn up to his own parole hearing to protect his mental health.

Joanne’s mother Doreen Soulsby (pictured) has campaigned to keep Ling in prison 

He is said to have skipped the hearing earlier this month to avoid hearing the victim impact statement from James’ parents.

The decision to adjourn Ling’s latest hearing – he had ones in 2020 and 2022 – was confirmed by the Parole Board.

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The Parole Board cannot comment on individual cases. A panel may adjourn a parole hearing to ensure a comprehensive risk assessment can take place.

‘There are a number of situations where an adjournment may be required, for example more information is required, the prisoner needs more time to complete a course, a witness is not available, or for some other unavoidable reason.’

On December 2, 1998, Ling pleaded guilty to murder and received a minimum of 17 years and 25 days in prison. This term expired in December 2015.

Joanne met Ling in a pub. She was in Stamfordham to see her father for Christmas Eve. He went back to her father’s home before she went with him to his own house, he said.

In his statement, Ling claimed she pushed him away when he tried to kiss her, then he hit her and stabbed her during the assault.

‘I don’t know why I did it,’ he said. The killer also admitted to her rape.

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