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Hotel murderers get Christmas Eve parole

Festive season was kind to head severer, and fatal fire starter.

CHRIS THOMSON

EXCLUSIVE: The festive season was kind to one man who wilfully committed murder at a Perth hotel, and another who set fire to accommodation at a Toodyay hotel killing a fellow guest, with both men granted parole on Christmas Eve.

The first of two men to be granted parole on Christmas eve, Kurt Seel, was in 1995 convicted of life imprisonment for wilful murder after severing with a knife the major muscles that held a man’s head to his body.

KINGS HOTEL MURDER

In November 1994, Seel attended the Kings Hotel in Hay Street, Perth, to meet his co-offender and his soon-to-be victim to discuss a business proposition. Seel and his co-offender decided the deal would not go ahead and left the hotel.

Seel returned to collect his co-offender’s sunglasses and decided to kill the victim.

A written decision published by the Prisoners Review Board says that Seel stabbed the man in the chest, piercing his breastbone and completely severing his aorta.

The man fled, and Seel pursued him. Seel used the knife to slice across the victim’s throat, severing the trachea and jugular vein.

Seel also severed the major muscles that held the man’s head onto his body.

The man fell to the ground and died very quickly.

Senior psychologist Sarah Ballantyne advised the Board that Seel presented a low risk of future violence. She recommended no further clinical interventions for him.

Seel’s last prison charge was 17 years ago, for insubordination.

Before his release on December 30, he was employed in the education area of Bunbury Regional Prison, helping a manager with filing, book keeping and prisoner liaison. The manager described him as regularly handling highly confidential information and having earned the trust of staff and prisoners.

While in prison, Seel completed Bachelor of Arts (psychology-criminology) and Master of Social Science (criminology) degrees.

Now he is a free man, he proposes to work, although no employment had been arranged as of Christmas Eve.

He plans to initially live with his parents, with whom he has been in regular contact since imprisoned.

Having regard to “his serious previous criminal history, the brutal nature of the wilful murder offence and the absence of the capacity for him to undergo a re-socialisation programme” the Board viewed a parole term of five years appropriate.

TOODYAY HOTEL FATAL FIRE STARTER

Also walking free from prison on December 30 was Douglas Birks, who in May 2005 was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non parole period of eight years.

In November 2003, after the bar at Toodyay’s Victoria Hotel closed, Birks, who had been drinking there, started a fire that destroyed the accommodation units, where he had been staying, and killed one person.

A written decision by the Prisoners Review Board says Birks’ community corrections officer considered that Birks now accepted responsibility for starting the fire and appeared “very remorseful”.

Birks, who at the time of the murder was a water truck driver completing road works, has secured full time work as a tow truck driver.

The decision to release him on a three-year term of parole was also granted on Christmas Eve.

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