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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
'Jail life better for pensioners'
Michael Sams
Michael Sams said life in prison was cheaper than on the outside
Murderer and kidnapper Michael Sams has said he is better off in prison than he would be living as a free pensioner.

Sams, 66, was jailed for life in 1993 for murdering Leeds teenager Julie Dart and kidnapping Birmingham estate agent Stephanie Slater.

Sams, from Nottinghamshire, wrote to prisoners' magazine Inside Time to oppose a call for convicts' pensions.

He said he had better living conditions inside Whitemoor jail, Cambridgeshire, than many people on the basic pension.

In his letter, Sams wrote: "Have you ever seen an OAP inmate in tatty clothes or scruffy trainers? Not a hope!

How many pensioners in the community, who are totally dependent on the basic state pension and live in rented accommodation, are able to spend around 20 on luxuries?
Michael Sams

"Materially, we OAPs in prison are far better off than those in the community.

"How many pensioners in the community, who are totally dependent on the basic state pension and live in rented accommodation, are able to spend around 20 on luxuries?

"Most struggle to keep warm in winter, afraid to put the heating on, barely eating, let alone getting three square, ready-made, meals per day. And three or four choices at that!"

Sams added that prisoners over the retirement age also had free gym access and no bills to pay except a 1 a week TV rental charge.

Ranson demand

Mervyn Kohler, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, said: "It is not a surprise that a prisoner feels materially better off than an ordinary pensioner.

"It costs somewhere in the region of 40,000 a year to pay for a prisoner, whereas the credits pensioners get amount to something like 6,000.

"However, most elderly people value their independence and I think it's unlikely that anyone would start committing crimes to get the benefits he outlines."

Sams, from Sutton-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, admitted kidnapping Miss Slater in January 1992, falsely imprisoning her and demanding a 175,000 ransom for he safe return.

He was caught after an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch programme when his wife recognised a recording of his voice.

Sams was found guilty of the 1991 murder of teenage prostitute Miss Dart following a trial at Nottingham Crown Court.


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