One thing is for certain this Christmas. Convicted killer Robert Long will remain behind bars for the festive season.
Long has filed for a time extension on his parole application until early next year.
When asked for an update on the status of his parole application, Queensland Corrective Services provided this statement to me today:
“Mr Long requested time to provide further material and he has been allowed until 21 January 2021 to do so. Once that material is received a final decision will be made in relation to the parole application.“
It should provide some relief to the many who have contacted me in recent months concerned about his potential release.
Long was sentenced to 20 years non-parole for the murder of Western Australian twins Kelly and Stacey Slarke in the Palace Backpackers Hostel fire in Childers on 23 June, 2000. He was also charged with arson.
However, 15 people died in the fire that night. 69 people escaped with their lives but were left with severe psychological trauma which they have carried over the past 20 years.
Long first filed an application for his release in early June this year, just weeks before the 20th anniversary of the fire.
The full ordeal of what happened before, during and after the tragic event has been told in my chart-topping podcast CHILDERS – The Full Story.
There have been several developments since that application was filed.
The Queensland Parole Board deferred a decision as new information was sought. READ ABOUT THAT HERE
Then the President of the Queensland Parole Board Michael Byrne QC confirmed he would not be part of the decision-making process due to a conflict of interest. He was involved in the original decision to only apply two murder charges against Long when the matter was first heard immediately after the fire. DETAILS HERE
This latest development means Long will remain behind bars into the New Year.
This year’s commemoration service in Childers was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are hopes that it can be staged on the 21st anniversary next year.