An Australian man who raped, tortured and murdered a young girl in 1989 may walk free from jail as soon as Tuesday, despite being given a life sentence.
Lauren Hickson, just four years old at the time, fell victim to Neville Towner who attacked her at Emu Plains, a suburb in Sydney's west.
The then 23-year-old abducted the young girl from the caravan park where she lived with her family, before bashing her over the head with a rock, attempting to rape her and eventually drowning her in the Nepean River.
Despite Towner being convicted of murder and sentenced to life behind bars, he could be given parole on Tuesday when he faces the NSW State Parole Authority (SPA).
Towner was the son of Lauren’s babysitter, to whom the girl’s mother Jurina Hickson entrusted with her daughter’s care.
Lauren had been left alone with Towner while Mrs Hickson and her husband believed she was in the care of Towner’s mother.
A huge police search was mounted when Lauren vanished from her parents’ caravan.
Two days later, the little girl’s near-naked body was found in a creek bed 500m from the family home.
And now, less than three decades on from the shocking murder, Towner has freedom within his reach should the SPA approve his release.
Jurina Hickson has backed a Change.org petition calling on the SPA to block Towner's parole.
'I'll never forgive him while I've still got breath in my body,' Ms Hickson said.
'The murder was so horrific. He sexually assaulted and tortured her. I just can't understand why a prisoner of his calibre is going to get a get-out-of-jail-free card.' She continued.