Dad's bid to keep man who killed his four children and ex wife in jail

A father, whose four children and his ex-wife were all murdered by their new husband, begs the government to make sure he dies behind bars.

Lee Ford, then 33, strangled stepchildren Sarah Jane, 17, Anne Marie, 16, Steven, 14 and Craig, 13, with a rope at their home in the quiet mountain village of Carnkie, Cornwall.

And he beat his wife Lesley, 36, to death with a racket during the 2000 rampage.

Then he hid their bodies in woodsheds and fields, where they lay undetected for weeks, and told people that Lesley had left him and was still living in the house with their two children.

Ford never revealed why he killed her and the four children she shared with ex Michael Tranter, now 60.

The mass murderer has been sentenced to five life sentences and is currently serving a term of at least 27 years.

But Mr Tranter has launched a campaign calling on the government to guarantee that Ford dies in prison.

He fears the probation regime could mean his preparations for release could begin in just four years.

His petition to the government has garnered more than 13,000 signatures since it launched a month ago.

Michael, from Telford, Shropshire, said he finally felt able to start his campaign.

He found the strength when he finally visited the memorial for his children in their former school – 20 years after it was built.

He said, “It’s been 21 years of torture and it really changed me as a person.

“I feel like I’m the one with a life sentence.

“After the 20th anniversary of the murders, I became more and more concerned because I knew he could be out in a few years.

“For what he’s done he deserves to suffer in prison for the rest of his life.

“I just want someone to tell me that the man who killed my children and their mother will never be free again.”

Lesley and her children were last seen alive in late August 2000.

Over a 24 hour period, all five were strangled by Ford, who killed the children from behind with a 2 foot rope before telling the neighbors that she had left him.

Ford even tried to cash in on victim Sarah’s final salary package at McDonald’s.

Days before the first body was found, Ford even asked a neighbor if he could keep some Christmas presents in his home so the kids wouldn’t find them.

He buried the rotting bodies of Sarah and Anne Marie in a field and was arrested before he could move the others.

Ford never explained why he killed her, but police speculated that he had started a sexual relationship with stepdaughter Sarah, 17.

Ford told the police, “For my life, I don’t even want to understand why I did what I did.”

Nigel Pascoe QC, who was prosecuting the case, said, “This was not a passionate crime, it was ferocity.”

Dad Michael, a living child carer, said: “I knew something was wrong when I was told Lesley and the children went missing.

“Her death killed me – I drank a lot to numb the pain.

“I need someone who can tell me that after what he’s done, he’ll never get out of jail.”

Michael is now married to his wife Pauline Tranter (56) and has the stepchildren Robert (32) and Darren (28) and a 37-year-old stepdaughter from a previous relationship, but no longer has any biological children.

He never wished to see the man who killed his children, despite a prison officer saying Michael Ford informally asked to see him years ago.

He said, “He could make me feel worse a hundred times.

“But if I did I would want to ask why he did it.

“I would like to know why he felt the need to kill my children.”

Lee Ford, murders Sarah Jane (17), Anne Marie (16), Steven (14) and Craig (13)

He recently attended the former children’s school in Helston, where the school had erected a memorial that has been rebuilt in recent months due to a renovation.

It was the first time he was there and found the strength after connecting with his daughter’s old school friends on a recently created Facebook memorial page.

He said, “It was on my mind to share the story for a while before I started talking to her friends.

“It wasn’t the right time before, but now I feel ready and have the support for it.

“I never really knew how.

“After talking to her friends and attending the children’s school, I felt ready after 20 years.”

Ford won’t be released until 2027.

In some cases, however, a “pre-tariff review” can be carried out two years before the minimum sentence is reached, in which it is checked whether they are suitable for dismissal once they have reached their tariff.

The Foreign Minister examines such cases and then refers them to the Parole Board.

A petition has been launched to prevent him from ever being released.

Michael said, “I’ve been asked to speak out about what happened for years, but I wasn’t ready.

“Now he could be out in a couple of years, the time is right to talk.

“If he’s ever released, nobody is safe – I think he would kill again.

“It still kills me now – and the thought that he might be out soon after what he did just makes me angrier.

“This man deserved to suffer the life inside for what he did – he finished five lives.

“I feel like I am the one who is facing a life sentence after what he did to my family.”

The petition, which has now been signed more than 13,000 times, reads: “We must live with what he did for the rest of our lives and feel that he should never be released.

“The effect of her death on everyone who knew her was catastrophic – from family to all of her school friends.

“In the eyes of the law, family crime is not equated with killing strangers. In my opinion, it is worse when the person you love and trust most commits the ultimate betrayal.

“I hope you will all sign this petition to ensure that Lee Ford remains in prison for the rest of his natural life.

“Someone who planned and carried out the murder of five people and then covered it up is indescribable.”

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