Child killer, Hughes, released

CHILD killer Austin Allan Hughes plans to make the Northern Rivers his home sometime after his release from Sydney’s Silverwater jail on December 29.

Austin Hughes, now 36, brutally murdered six-year-old John Ashfield in front of the child’s four siblings in Nowra on August 4, 1993. John’s mother was an accomplice.

Austin Hughes served 16 years of a 19 year sentence; the child’s mother is still in jail.

His uncle, Linden Hughes, a Sunshine Coast based real estate agent, confirmed there were plans to buy a property on the Northern Rivers where he would live with his nephew.

He declined to comment on where the farm might be.

“I have some friends down there,” Linden Hughes said.

“The parole board are favourable to it.”

Linden Hughes said everybody had been through a ‘horrific’ time, but his nephew had been rehabilitated and was sorry for his crimes.

During the fatal attack, Austin Hughes beat the boy with a hammer on the head for several hours from which John suffered a retinal haemorrhage and extensive bruising to his whole body.

Authority chairman Ian Pike said the board was satisfied Hughes would adapt to normal community life.

John’s sister Melissa, now aged 19, witnessed the sickening attack 16 years ago.

She said her family would not be celebrating Christmas this year.

“It’s going to be screwed up,” she told reporters outside court.

“But, at the end of the day, he’s not going to ruin our lives.

“We’re going to move on as much as we can.

“We’ll never forget. We’ll never forgive. But we have to move on.”

Linden Hughes said his nephew was optimistic about the future and hoped the family of his victim would one day forgive him.

The next three years of Austin Hughes’ life would be tightly managed by probation and parole.

“It has to be seen if he can move into the community and if the community will leave him alone,” Linden Hughes said.

Austin Hughes’ name will be added to the child protection register, forcing him to report his address to police and preventing him from working with children.

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