Crime and Punishment: Horror over violent criminal’s release

Crime and Punishment: Horror over violent criminal’s release

Violent criminal who stabbed his friend in the face is granted parole after adopting Buddhism and listening to Radio 4 in prison – but viewers insist he’s a ‘ticking time bomb’

  • William Donovan, from Southampton, imprisoned after stabbing friend in face
  • Served 15 years in prison and called ‘dangerous and reckless’ by parole officer
  • Insisted he had transformed after adopting Buddhism and listening to Radio 4 
  • Viewers watched as he was granted parole on Crime and Punishment last night 
  • Many reacted with fury online, with one branding him a ‘ticking time bomb’ 

Viewers were left horrified last night by the case of a violent criminal who was released from prison, despite his parole officer admitting he was her ‘most serious offender’. 

William Donovan, from Southampton, was imprisoned for 15 years after stabbing his friend Tony in the face while he was high on crack, leaving him blind in one eye. 

But on Channel 4’s Crime and Punishment, he insisted he had transformed during his sentence, by taking up Buddhism and listening to Radio 4.  

Viewers reacted with horror as he was granted parole on the programme last night, with many branded him a ‘ticking time bomb’. 

Violent criminal William Donovan, from Southampton,  stabbed his friend Tony in the face while high on crack and was sentenced to 15 years in prison 

Viewers were horrified to watch as he was released from prison last night on Channel 4’s Crime and Punishment 

One tweeted: ‘Only a matter of time before this guy stabs someone in the face again.’ 

Another called it a shocking decision, writing: ‘Absolutely unbelievable decision. If this guy reoffends, that board should be locked up too!’  

William’s first crime was an armed robbery, aged 15, before he became a notorious drug dealer and violet crack addict. 

He was imprisoned after stabbing a friend in the face, and admitted he’d smoked ‘crack through the night’ before the attack. 

William admitted he ‘stabbed the sh**’ out of his friend Tony while high on crack, leaving him blind in one eye 

He said: ‘By 6am I was insane – and I stabbed the s*** out of him, including his face. Then jumped out of his window and broke my ankles.’ 

William’s victim Tony was left blind in one eye and with fifty per cent in the other eye.

Tony revealed: ‘I warned him that his next time in jail would be for murdering someone or attempting murder. I just never ever believed that it would be me.’

‘He did bad things on crack and I’d love to think he wouldn’t try it again, but if he does, he could use a knife and the next person might not be so lucky as me.’

William’s victim Tony was left blind in one eye after the attack, and said he was left devastated by what happened 

His parole officer described him as one of her ‘most serious’ and ‘most violent’ criminals, with a ‘big ego’ 

Michelle Pilkington William, William’s parole officer for last four years, described him as ‘one of her most violent offenders.’ 

She said: ‘Probably my most serious. Thing is, he had quite a big ego when he went into custody.

‘Completely and utterly without any former boundaries. Reckless and dangerous.’

Discussing her position, she said she was always balancing rehabilitation with protecting the public, saying: ‘Mine’s kind of a dual role.’

William blamed his childhood growing up in the care system in the 80s for his long criminal history, saying: ‘There was no shame there’ 

‘Where is the line where you stop trying with someone and stop rehabilitating and tomorrow could seriously hurt someone. You can never be 100 per cent.’ 

William spent two years of his sentence living in an open village prison and working as a builder. 

As he prepared for a parole board hearing, Michelle admitted she had concerns about his behaviour.

She said: ‘He did threaten to come in and kill the probation officer that was recalling him. He displays a lot of vengeful thinking.’ 

William’s parole officer Michelle Pilkington William said she could never be 100% a prisoner wouldn’t reoffend 

William said he could rely on his partner of 27 years Sheryl for support, and said he would be devastated if they broke up 

But William insisted he was rehabilitated, had taken up Buddhism and planned to move in with his partner Sheryl, saying: ‘I mean I listen to Radio 4 for f*** sake.’ 

He blamed his childhood growing up in the care system in the ’80s for his long criminal history, saying: ‘Everyone was on bail for burglary and shoplifting and whatever – there was no shame there – and no one told you it was bad there was no shame there.’ 

He suffered from borderline personality disorder, and admitted he had ‘very poor emotional management.’ 

And during his parole meeting, an officer pointed out that if his relationship with his girlfriend was to break-down, there would be major concerns. 

Despite his violent criminal history, William insisted that his belief in Buddhism and listen to Radio 4 had transformed his life 

William’s parole officer noted that he displayed vengeful thinking and was one of her ‘most violent’ offenders 

He said: ‘I think the concern is that when you haven’t got the strictures of prison, will you have the same consequential thinking to stop you doing something silly?’ 

But William insisted a break-up was unlikely, saying: ‘I would be upset and quite disappointed [if we broke up]. We’ve been together 27 years so if we had any issues we would work them out.’ 

Two weeks after the parole board, William was granted parole, with the officer saying: ‘Basically they’ve given it to you.’

William said he felt it was ‘well-deserved’ and that he’d ‘put in some work’ in order to get it.  

William insisted that his parole was ‘well-deserved’ and that he had ‘put some work in’ to be granted release 

William was released to reside in a hostel for three months, and was ordered not to contact Tony under the conditions of his licence.

But Tony was left devastated by the news, saying: ‘I’ve become a recluse. I can wake up in the mornings sitting on the edge of the bed just paralysed. My life stopped when this incident happened.’

And it emerged that shortly after his release, William got into a confrontation on a train, where he threatened to punch someone’s ‘face in’. 

Michelle admitted: The road to rehabilitation is a zig-zag. I can’t predict the future, but would you rather that he stay in custody and become a more damaged individual? Or would you rather that he repent and make it up to the public.’ 

Viewers were stunned over William’s release from prison, with one branding him ‘a ticking time bomb’ 

But viewers were horrified by the news that William was out on the streets, with one commenting: ‘This country is an utter joke!’ 

They added: ‘So weak on #crimeandpunishment. No wonder the thugs are so brave, stupid PC ‘slap on the wrist’ culture.’ 

‘This guy is a ticking time bomb!’ another wrote. 

Another said: ‘So William is now free. Shame his victim will never get parole from the torture he was put through! He shows not one ounce of remorse either! Scum.’ 

The director for the Channel 4 Crime and Punishment hashtag said he had ‘every confidence’ William would do well in the future 

One commented: ‘Also I speak on behalf of the whole nation – none of us want William to be our next door neighbour!’  

But the director for the episode, Rory Jackson, defended William online, saying: ‘Very sad to see so much hate on the hashtag – William has made leaps and bounds in his thinking over his 15 years in custody. 

‘Having spent months with him, I personally have every confidence he’ll do well in the future.’  

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