The family of a murder victim has reacted furiously after a killer’s parole hearing was adjourned at the 11th hour.

William Dunlop, known as Billy, was eventually sentenced to life after Ann Ming fought to overturn the archaic 800-year-old 'double jeopardy' law after her daughter’s killer managed to evade justice after two juries failed to reach a verdict.

Mrs Ming, who was supported throughout her campaign by The Northern Echo, spent 15 years persuading the government to change the statute book.

Now in his 60s, Dunlop was due to appear before the Parole Board today (Tuesday, June 25) in a bid to be released from prison after serving almost 18 years for the murder of Julie Hogg in 1991.

Ann Ming speaking to the BBC outside the courtAnn Ming speaking to the BBC outside the court (Image: Graeme Hetherington, Newsquest)

Dunlop admitted strangling the mother-of-one in a recorded police interview in the belief that he could never be charged with the murder for a second time.

Today, the family travelled down from the North East to attend the two-day hearing only to be told that new information, provided by the Ministry of Justice, meant it could not go ahead.

Julie HoggJulie Hogg

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Mrs Ming said the family had been left devastated by the late adjournment.

She said: “We have asked to have a meeting with the head of the Parole Board and we have been told she is not in her office. So where is Caroline Corby?

“Come and meet with us, you are the head of the Parole Board, you are supposed to balancing the scales in favour of victims.

“Please come out and tell me exactly what happened today. Why is this adjourned.

“Every parole hearing I argue. Last time he (Dunlop) wanted to go to an open prison, so I objected to that.

“Luckily for us the Justice Minister, Brandon Lewis, stepped in and overruled it. So what has changed since then?

“Nothing, nothing has changed.”

Billy DunlopBilly Dunlop (Image: Northern Echo)

Dunlop twice stood trial for the killing in 1991, but two juries could not reach verdicts, and he walked free because of the 'double-jeopardy' rule.

The campaigning mother, who found her daughter’s mutilated body hidden under the bath at her Billingham home, was furious and set out on a fight to bring her daughter's killer to justice.

Mrs Ming’s fight for justice finally came to a conclusion in 2006 when Dunlop was convicted of her daughter’s murder and jailed for life – the very first case to be tried under the new legal guidance.

And Mrs Ming's dogged determination was rewarded after Dunlop's prison confession to the brutal killing was used against him and he was finally brought to justice.

After Julie went missing, officers carried out a fingertip search of her home but turned up nothing.

Three months later, Mrs Ming was handed the keys to her daughter's Billingham home and followed a smell to the bathroom.

That led her to the decomposing body of her beloved daughter - a discovery which was missed by Cleveland Police and led to a compensation pay-out over the handling of the case.

The mother-of-one lay naked and concealed behind a bath panel, covered by a blanket.

Dunlop had already been convicted of perjury after he admitted the murder while he was serving a prison sentence.

This is the second time that the killer has tried to argue that he is ready for release from custody.

Kevin Hogg speaking outside the Royal Courts of JusticeKevin Hogg speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice (Image: Graeme Hetherington, Newsquest)

Speaking outside the court, Julie’s son Kevin, said the family had no idea what the new evidence is that has delayed the hearing.

“I feel absolutely disgusted with the way the Parole Board have treated myself and my family,” he said.

“They were notified on Friday there was a request to adjourn and the panel refused.

“They have then provided us with a pre-written statement to say there has been some new information and they have to adjourn to make a more informed decision whether to move or change his categorisation.

“They have known this all along. They have kept us here for hours waiting, unnecessarily, causing more heartache.”

He added: “They had had our information for at least eight weeks and now they have decided to adjourn and not give a reason why or what this new pertinent information is - it’s outrageous.

“Without the support people in our hometown and the press, we wouldn’t be able to voice our opinion and how we feel.

“It’s a letdown. Caroline Corby issued a statement that it was granted to a public hearing to restore faith within the family about criminal justice system.

“Well Caroline, you have let us down completely.”

A date has yet to be determined for the new hearing and a spokesperson from the Parole Board said: “We are very sorry that the public hearing will not go ahead as planned today. We know that people have made time to attend, and that some have travelled to the hearing, and we are sorry that they have not been able to see the hearing today.

“The hearing has had to be adjourned, at the request of the Ministry of Justice, because they have produced at the last minute some additional information to be considered by the panel.

“We realise that this can be disappointing but we have an obligation to make sure that the hearing is fair for all parties. That means that the panel need to see all of the relevant information and the parties need to have enough time to be able to respond to it.

“The panel’s priority must be to ensure the relevant information is available, so that they can thoroughly review the potential risks and ensure public protection. Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

“The public hearing will be re-listed as soon as the additional information has been shared and considered, and we will let people know when it is once that has taken place.

“There are a number of situations where an adjournment may be required - for example, more information is required, the prisoner needs more time to complete a course, a witness is not available, or for some other unavoidable reason. The Parole Board does everything it can to avoid these delays.

"The panel will carefully examine a whole range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as understand the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.

“Any decision to adjourn an oral hearing must be recorded in writing with reasons, and that record must be provided to the parties (the prisoner and the Secretary of State for Justice) no more than 14 days after the date of that decision.

“Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”