Belfast Telegraph

Oxfam review after it uses wife killer on delivery run

By Staff Reporter

A leading charity has suspended its work with prisoners and people on probation after it was revealed that it had used a wife murderer to deliver furniture into the homes of unsuspecting women.

Oxfam confirmed Trevor McCandless - jailed for a minimum of 15 years in 2001 for stabbing spouse Zara 33 times in front of their eight-year-old son Craig - was on a supervised placement through a Prison Service rehabilitation scheme when he was pictured accompanying a charity shop delivery driver.

Our sister paper Sunday Life reported yesterday that Oxfam was aware of McCandless' murder conviction when it offered him the placement.

The charity also knew that just last year he was convicted of assaulting another woman in Cookstown, and in 2014 was thrown back in jail after being accused of harassing a female.

A spokesman for the charity said: "We are investigating the circumstances that arose in this case and are suspending all probation and Prison Service placements until that review is completed."

McCandless is nearing the end of his life sentence and is currently on pre-release and living in north Belfast.

After a retrial in 2001, he was jailed for life with a minimum 15-year tariff for the murder of his wife Zara at their Coleraine home.

Jailing McCandless, the judge described the TA soldier, who had a history of domestic violence, as an "inadequate" with serious personality problems who had "made a public spectacle of the cruel murder" of his wife.

The killer stabbed his victim more than 30 times in May 1998 in front of their son after she ended their marriage. A few weeks before, Zara had kicked her husband out because of his drunken ways.

On the day of the killing, McCandless forced his way into the house after a heavy drinking session and attacked her. Police found Zara's lifeless body in the front garden. When McCandless was sentenced, Zara's father Robert Walker said it was not long enough.

"I don't think he should ever be allowed out for what he did to my daughter," her grieving dad said.

But in 2014 McCandless was thrown off a pre-release programme over fears he was harassing a woman who he falsely claimed was his girlfriend.

He was later given a second chance and allowed back on the temporary release scheme.

But this ended when he was returned to prison last year for assaulting his partner. He received a two-month jail sentence.

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