A NOTORIOUS killer who shot dead a planning officer in cold blood in front of media cameras has been released from prison after suffering a stroke, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Albert Dryden, 76, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of principal planning officer Harry Collinson will be looked after at a County Durham residential care home.

Mr Collinson, 46, of Neville's Cross, Durham, was enforcing the demolition of an illegally-built bungalow at Butsfield, near Consett, when Dryden drew a First World War gun and shot him on June 20, 1991.

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As well as shooting Mr Collinson, he also wounded police officer Stephen Campbell in the buttock and reporter Tony Belmont in the arm.

The former Consett steelworker had previously been refused parole, because he had shown had no remorse.

Mr Collinson's older brother, Roy, said last night: "Personally, I couldn’t bloody care less what happens to Albert Dryden. If he dies slowly that’s good. I’ll be very happy about that.

"He never showed one bit of remorse in all the 26 years he has been in prison. He still tried to justify his actions for some God-unknown reason."

He added: "If the police had done their job properly, my brother wouldn't have been killed and Albert Dryden wouldn't have spent all this time in prison."

The showdown with planning officials of the former Derwentside District Council followed a dispute that had gone on for several years.

Dryden built his bungalow in a hollow, because he wrongly thought he would not need planning permission, which the council refused to grant.

Durham County Councillor Alex Watson, who served as leader of the district council at the time said: "Mr Dryden has had a severe stroke. He has been in hospital and he cannot speak.

"He has more than paid the penalty. You are talking about 26 years ago that it happened. He is in poor health and he is not going to recover and the prison authorities have decided he should be released.

"He will be looked after in a residential care home.

"He can’t do any harm to anyone. He is a defenceless person."