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Sex killer who believed he’d got away with the perfect murder of a student for four years before a chance DNA test trapped him should be moved to an open jail, the Parole Board has said


A sex killer who believed he’d got away with the perfect murder of a student for four years before a chance DNA test trapped him should be moved to an open jail, the Parole Board has said.

Bus driver Michael Robinson, then 30, was jailed for life in October 2004 after he finally confessed to strangling Finnish born Sara Cameron, 23, in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.

The former soldier escaped justice for four years after brutally killing Sara, whose naked body was found under a hedge in a field yards from her home on April 21, 2000.

Sara’s death sparked one of the region’s longest-running unsolved killing mysteries, with almost 3,000 calls to the murder incident room and more than 5,000 DNA samples being taken from men on North Tyneside.

Despite the huge police investigation the murder of the sports management student became a high-profile cold case, with the chances of finding the killer getting slimmer as each year passed.

Michael Robinson (pictured in 2004) escaped justice for four years after brutally killing Sara Cameron, 23, just yards from her home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, in April 2000. Now the Parole Board has said he should be moved to an open jail

Michael Robinson (pictured in 2004) escaped justice for four years after brutally killing Sara Cameron, 23, just yards from her home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, in April 2000. Now the Parole Board has said he should be moved to an open jail

Despite the huge police investigation the murder of the sports management student (pictured) became a high-profile cold case, with the chances of finding the killer getting slimmer as each year passed

Despite the huge police investigation the murder of the sports management student (pictured) became a high-profile cold case, with the chances of finding the killer getting slimmer as each year passed

At his trial at Newcastle Upon Tyne Crown Court in October 2004, Paul Worsley QC, prosecuting, said: ‘For four years, he showed no remorse and breathed not a word of what he had done and moved from the area.

‘He knew the family of Sara Cameron would not be able to grieve or rest until her killer was brought to justice.’

Robinson, who had moved from Tyneside to Newhaven, East Sussex, believed he had got away with the murder of the student, who attended Northumbria University.

However, four years later, detectives had a major breakthrough in the case. Robinson had been arrested for a minor criminal damage matter, but after he was routinely swabbed for the incident, his DNA matched with the samples from Sara’s murder.

Robinson confessed to the killing in a series of interviews after his arrest. In October 2004 he was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 17 years in prison.

MailOnline previously reported that the 49-year-old would have his hearing on February 5, 2024. It was his second parole hearing after his minimum tariff expired in February 2022.

At the hearing, Robinson gave evidence and said he hoped to be transferred to open conditions.

In its conclusion, the Parole Board highlighted Robinson’s past ‘risk factors’, including ‘having deviant sexual thoughts, relationship issues, bearing a grudge, anger towards women, substance misuse, an unsettled way of life and poor mental health’.

Sara's death sparked one of the region's longest-running unsolved killing mysteries, with almost 3,000 calls to the murder incident room and more than 5,000 DNA samples being taken from men on North Tyneside

Sara’s death sparked one of the region’s longest-running unsolved killing mysteries, with almost 3,000 calls to the murder incident room and more than 5,000 DNA samples being taken from men on North Tyneside¬†

Robinson confessed to the killing in a series of interviews after his arrest. In October 2004 he was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 17 years in prison

Robinson confessed to the killing in a series of interviews after his arrest. In October 2004 he was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 17 years in prison

It said that Robinson had undertaken accredited programmes to address his sexual offending and there was ‘no outstanding offence focussed work for him to complete’.

It wrote: ‘Mr Robinson also acknowledged the need for a slow reintegration into society, hence his application for a progressive move to open conditions.’

The Parole Board stated: ‘After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was not satisfied that release at this point would be safe for the protection of the public.

‘However, on considering the criteria for recommending placement in open conditions, the panel recommended that Mr Robinson should be progressed in this way.

‘It is now for the Secretary of State to decide whether he accepts the Parole Board’s recommendation.’

A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘The Parole Board refused the release of Michael Robinson but recommended a move to an open conditions prison following an oral hearing in February 2024.

‘This was a recommendation only and the Secretary of State for Justice considers the advice before making the final decision on whether a prisoner is suitable for open conditions.’

The Secretary of State has 28 days to intervene to prevent Robinson being moved to an open prison.

Under toughened parole laws introduced in 2022, the Minister has the right to stop a prisoner being moved from closed conditions to an open jail.

The decision to move an inmate from a closed jail is normally a precursor to them being freed on licence in the future.

In 2004, the trial heard that Sara had been celebrating with friends on Good Friday in April 2000, the day before she was due to fly out to a ‘dream job’ at the Sydney Olympics.

Robinson admitted after his arrest that he had developed fantasies about rape and violence and had previously stalked two other women.

The divorced father-of-one had chatted to friends about the murder hunt and joked with his mother about detectives questioning one of his friends.

After the hearing, the victim's father, Roy Cameron, an architect from Paignton, Devon, said: 'We will always have proud memories of our beautiful daughter. Because we are parents, our heart goes out to the family of this man for the stain they will have to bear'

After the hearing, the victim’s father, Roy Cameron, an architect from Paignton, Devon, said: ‘We will always have proud memories of our beautiful daughter. Because we are parents, our heart goes out to the family of this man for the stain they will have to bear’

Robinson’s family told police he had drunk heavily and smoked cannabis, suddenly turning on his brothers and sister without provocation.

After the hearing, the victim’s father, Roy Cameron, an architect from Paignton, Devon, said: ‘We will always have proud memories of our beautiful daughter. Because we are parents, our heart goes out to the family of this man for the stain they will have to bear. May God forgive him.’

Robinson was described as ‘exceptionally dangerous’ by Mr Justice Henriques at his sentencing.



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