A heartbroken dad whose four children and ex-wife were all murdered by her new husband is pleading with the government to ensure he dies behind bars.
Lee Ford, then 33, strangled his step-children Sarah Jane, 17, Anne Marie, 16, Steven, 14, and Craig, 13, with a rope at their home in the quiet hilltop village of Carnkie, Cornwall.
The monster also bludgeoned wife Lesley, 36, to death with a rounders bat during the horrific killing spree in 2000.
After carrying out the brutal murders he hid their bodies in woodshed and field, where they lay undiscovered for weeks.
He told people Lesley had left him and continuing to live in the house with their two shared children.
The mass murderer received five life sentences and is currently serving a prison sentence of a minimum of 27 years.
Evil Ford has never revealed why he killed her and the four children she had with ex-husband Michael Tranter.
The grieving 60-year-old fears parole rules mean Ford’s preparation for release could begin in as little as four years time so he has launched a campaign urging the government to guarantee the barbaric killer will die in prison.
His petition to the government has gathered more than 13,000 signatures in support, since it was launched a month ago.
Michael from Telford in Shropshire, said he finally feels able to launch his campaign now after he found the strength by finally visiting the memorial to his children at their former school – 20 years after it was built.
He said: “It’s been 21 years of torture and it has truly changed me as a person.
“I feel as if I’m the one with the life sentence.
“After the 20th anniversary of the murders, I’ve been getting more and more anxious knowing he could be out in a few years.
“For what he has done, he deserves to suffer in prison for the rest of his life.
“I just want someone to tell me the man who killed my children and their mother will never be free again.”
Tragic Lesley and her children were last seen alive at the end of August 2000.
Over a period of 24 hours, all five of them were ruthlessly garrotted by Ford, who killed the children with a 2ft rope from behind, before telling neighbours she’d left him.
Ford even attempted to cash in victim Sarah’s last wage packet from McDonald’s.
Days before the first body was found, Ford even asked a neighbour if he could store some Christmas presents at his home so the children would not find them.
He reburied the decaying bodies of Sarah and Anne Marie in a field, and was arrested before he could move the others.
Ford never explained why he killed them, but police speculated he had begun a sexual relationship with Sarah Jane.
Ford told police: “For the life of me, I do not even understand why I did what I did.”
Nigel Pascoe QC, who prosecuted the case said: “This was not a crime of passion but of savagery.”
Dad Michael, a live-in children’s carer, said: “I knew something was wrong as soon as I was told Lesley and the children were missing.
“Their deaths killed me – I was drinking very heavily to try and numb the pain.
“I need someone to tell me he won’t ever come out of prison after what he did.”
Michael is now married to wife Pauline Tranter, 56, and has stepchildren Robert, 32, and Darren, 28, as well as a 37-year-old step-daughter from a previous relationship, but has had no more biological children.
He has never wished to see the man who killed his children although a prison officer told Ford had informally requested to see him years ago.
He said: “He could make me feel hundreds of times worse.
“But if I did, I’d want to ask why he did it.
“I’d want to know why he felt the need to kill my children.”
He recently visited the childrens’ former school in Helston where the school had erected a memorial, rebuilt in recent months due to a refurb.
It was the first time he’d been, and found the strength after connecting with his daughter’s old school pals on a recently created Facebook memorial page,
He said: “It had been on my mind for quite to share the story a while before I started speaking to their friends.
“Before then it hadn’t been the right time but now I feel ready and I have the support to do it.
“I have never really known how.
“After speaking to their friends and visiting the children’s school, and after 20 years, I felt ready.”
Ford will not be eligible for release until 2027.
However, in some cases a ‘pre-tariff review’ can be carried out two years before a prisoner reaches their minimum sentence, in which an assessment is made over whether they will be suitable for release once they have reached their tariff.
The Secretary of State considers such cases and then makes a referral to the Parole Board.
Michael said: “For years I’ve been asked to speak out about what happened, but I wasn’t ready.
“Now he could be out in a few years, it’s the right time to start talking.
“If he is ever released, nobody will be safe – I believe he would kill again.
“It still kills me now – and the thought that he could soon be out after what he did makes me more and more angry.
“That man deserves to suffer life inside for what he has done – he ended five lives.
“I feel like I’m the one suffering a life sentence after what he did to my family.”
The petition, which has now been signed more than 13,000 times, reads: “We have to live with what he did for the rest of our lives and feel that he should never be released.
“The effect their deaths had on anyone that knew them was catastrophic – from family to all their school friends.
“In the eyes of the law familial crime is not judged the same as stranger killing. In my opinion it’s worse as the person who you loved and trusted the most commits the ultimate betrayal.
“I hope you will all sign this petition to ensure that Lee Ford stays in prison for the rest of his natural life.
“Someone that planned and executed the murder of five people and then covered it up is beyond words.”