ONE of East Lancashire most notorious murderers could be freed after High Court judges scrapped his 'life means life' sentence.

The ruling means Anthony Entwistle will be considered for parole in 2012.

Entwistle was told he would die in prison for the killing of Michelle Calvy when he was sentenced in 1988.

The 16-year-old former Witton Park High School pupil was strangled while being raped before her body was dumped at a Tockholes beauty spot in April 1987.

Entwistle, now 59, who lived in Thwaites Road, Oswaldtwistle, had served prison sentences for three rapes before he murdered Michelle, of Brookway, off Livesey Branch Road, Blackburn.

He killed her just weeks after being released from a seven-year jail term.

The judge at Preston Crown Court told Entwistle, 38, at the time, that he would die in jail.

He was one of 35 murderers told they will never be released.

Others on the list include Donald Neilson, Ian Brady and Jeremy Bamber.

High Court judge Mr Justice Davis that he should be eligible for consideration for parole after serving 25 years in prison, giving him a chance of freedom from 2012.

The judge ruled that a 25-year tariff was sufficient for the purposes of "retribution and deterrence".

Mr Justice Davies said that it would be up to the Parole Board to decide that Entwistle did not pose a danger to the public, adding that he shared "concerns" that it may never be safe to release the killer.

The judge said: "The brief description of the offence was that the applicant strangled, by hand ligature in the course of rape, a 16-year-old virgin who was a stranger to him.

"He had abducted her while she was walking along a canal.

"The applicant had numerous previous convictions. These include convictions for two offences of rape for which he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in total on 24 April 1974 and a further conviction for rape for which he was sentenced to a term of ten years imprisonment on 7 November 1980.

"The present offence was committed within a few weeks of his release from that sentence."

He continued: "This was an appalling crime, not only by reference to its own dreadful circumstances but also by reference to the antecedent history of the applicant.

"The minimum term that I am required to set, however, is by reference to considerations of retribution and deterrence.

"For the purposes solely of retribution and deterrence, I do not think it right that a whole life tariff be imposed.

"This does not mean that the applicant necessarily will be released after the expiry of that time.

"He can only be released if ever (and it maybe never) he is assessed as no longer a danger to the public."

After the case, Blackburn MP and Justice Secretary Jack Straw promised to meet the family of Michelle Calvy in the run up to a parole hearing.

He said: "I can well understand the anxiety of the family, but as the judge made clear, all this prisoner has a right to do in three years' time is apply for parole.

"And the judge said words to the effect that his release, if ever, will only take place if he no longer poses a danger."

Mr Straw said he would have the chance to make representations to the parole board, including to argue against Entwistle's release, as would the victim's family.

He said: "There are quite a number of prisoners whose tariffs have expired but are not being released because they are still a danger".

The case was the first murder inquiry that Detective Superintendent Neil Hunter, who now leads the area's Force Major Investigation Team, had worked on.

He and a colleague went to arrest Entwistle after a detective learnt that he had been released from prison.

They found Entwistle cleaning out his car and it later discovered that car mat from the vehicle footwell matched an imprint that had been left on Michelle's leg when her body had been crumpled into the small space.

Mr Hunter said: "This is a extremely dangerous man, who was convicted not only of stranger rapes but also of murder.

"I am not convinced that he not longer poses a serious threat to woman."

"He was at the top end of the scale for criminality and this was reflected in his sentence."