Collette Gallacher's childhood pal starts petition to get killers like Stein on sex offenders register
'I remember Collette's grandad lifting her over the hedge into the garden to play with me'
A former Corby mayor who was close friends with tragic Collette Gallacher has started a government petition to get criminals like the one who killed her on the sex offenders' register.
Adam Stein callously abducted, raped and murdered the six-year-old in Ashley Avenue, Corby, in 1986 while she was on her way to school. When the killer was released last month, he was not placed on the sex offenders register because his crime took place before 1997 when the SOR came into being.
Collette's sisters Claire and Lauren Holmes have been campaigning for a law change so that people who committed their crimes before that date will be retrospectively placed on the register.
Their campaign has been supported by two former home secretaries, but the incumbent Priti Patel has refused to meet with the sisters.
Now Collette's pal Gail McDade - who lived on the same street as the killer - has started a petition, along with Collette's family, to urge the government to have a rethink.
Speaking for the first time about her memories of Collette, Gail - a former mayor of Corby who now works in politics in London - said Stein had not only taken her six-year-old pal, he'd also taken her innocence.
"My mum and dad's house in Ashley Avenue backed on to Collette's granny's house in Cransley Gardens," she said.
"Our dads had worked on the bins together when their family still lived in Occupation Road. My grandfather was friends with her uncle. So really, like so many people in Corby, our families had known each other forever.
"Collette was just a couple of weeks younger than me."
Collette's younger sister Lauren was just fifteen months when the six-year-old was killed.
"I remember when Lauren was born," said Gail.
"Collette had a little sister and I was raging because I had a little brother.
"She was so funny. I have memories of her grandad lifting her over the hedge into the garden to play with me. There's pictures of us having water fights.
"I remember Live Aid and us having a fundraising thing and me and Collette went round Cransley Gardens selling cakes.
"I remember our mums being worried about us crossing Willowbrook Road. They thought that was the danger."
On some days, Gail, Collette and another young pal used to walk to school together - with Gail and her friend going to Woodnewton and Collette catching the bus close by to head to Our Lady of Walsingham Primary.
But on the morning of February 6, the trio didn't meet up. Collette was abducted in Ashley Avenue on her way to the bus stop by Adam Stein who raped and killed her. She was missing for six days, with hundreds of local people searching the streets and rural areas for any trace of her before she was found in Stein's attic just a few metres from where her mum had said goodbye to her that morning.
"My memories of the week Collette went missing have taken over my other memories of her," said Gail.
"The police came into our house and spoke to my dad and they came in lots and lots of times over that week. I remember her being on the telly and my mum turning it off.
"The coverage was just everywhere.
"Then one night my bedroom was filled with blue lights. They were at Adam Stein's house. But by the next morning I remember there being press outside my house. There were TV cameras too, I think because we'd been friends with Collette's family, and so my parents decided the best place for me was in school.
"Blue lights in the dark still get to me now.
"I remember asking my mum what rape was. He took not only my friend away but he took my innocence as well, and that of lots of other kids in Corby."
Both Gail's and Collette's families still live in Corby and the women are still friends.
"People always knew that I was friends with Collette and I've never really spoken about it but when I heard he was getting out, I spoke to Lauren and Claire and asked what we needed to do.
"That man has had a hold over our lives for 35 years. I remember in 2005 the first time we thought he'd get out and I saw his face on the front of the paper in the shop and I just turned around and walked out.
"So we're hoping that the petition will help the friends and family of other people in this position. People like him should be on the sex offenders' register."
When it gets to 10,000 signatures, the government will have to provide a response and if it gets to 100,000 signatures, the government will have to consider it for a debate it in Parliament.
Claire Holmes said: "Finding out Collette's murderer wasn't going to be placed on the SOR on his release from prison really shocked us.
"Thanks to Kate Cronin and the community of Corby, we have managed to campaign to increase the monitoring he is under. But what about other sex offenders who have not had the family of their victims speaking out?
"This is a loophole that needs to be closed. It makes no sense."
You can view and sign the petition, which is on the government's website, here.