SUPPORTERS of convicted Yvonne Sleightholme fear the historic release of another woman jailed for murder will not help her case.

Susan May made legal history at Askham Grange Prison yesterday when she was released at her earliest parole date despite maintaining her innocence.

She was jailed for life 12 years ago for murdering her blind, deaf and house-bound elderly aunt. The 89-year-old was battered and suffocated with a pillow at her home.

Campaigners believe Sleightholme remains in prison 16 years after killing a farmer's wife near Malton because she maintains her innocence.

Sleightholme was eligible for parole after serving only ten years, but remains at a prison in Staffordshire. She befriended Mrs May while the two women were at Askham Grange last year.

Supporter Margaret Leonard said she was pleased for Mrs May, but added she did not think it would change Sleightholme's case.

She said: "I think Yvonne feels the same way as Susan, that the most important thing is to clear your name.

"If Yvonne was released now she would be treated as a convicted murderer and she wants to get rid of that stain.

"We're very pleased for Susan but I don't think it will have any bearing on whether Yvonne will be released because each case is judged on its own merits."

Mrs May wept as she hugged her eldest son, Adam, outside the gates of Askham Grange Prison, near York, yesterday.

Mrs May told the crowds her auntie had been denied justice, while other prisoners cheered from the windows.

"I am pleased to be free from prison, but in reality I will not be totally free until this injustice is recognised and my name cleared," she said.

"I have been failed by the justice system, a system I trusted and which I have to have hope in because I believe the truth will come out." Mrs May's aunt Hilda Marchbank was found at her home in Royton on March 12, 1992. Mrs May has always denied her murder, but was convicted after a lengthy investigation in 1993.

The prosecution said her handprint was found on a bloodstained wall at the crime scene.

Updated: 10:30 Wednesday, April 27, 2005