THE family of a man murdered by a love rival in a knife attack 14 years ago has expressed fears over his forthcoming release from prison.

Relatives of Andrew Stanyer believe his killer, Robert Bage, should never be released from prison.

They have been told by the probation service that Bage, who is from the Durham area, will be released on licence next month, and will live in the North-East, where he still has relatives.

Bage was jailed for life after he killed 24-year-old Mr Stanyer on March 2, 1991, stabbing him 40 times with a kitchen knife.

The murderer had become jealous of Mr Stanyer's relationship with his former partner and hid in the loft of her home in Stoke-on-Trent, before attacking his rival.

The victim's brother, Alan, said: "Life should mean life. My brother is not going to come out on licence, is he?

"I have real concerns about him being released back into the community. I just feel the people of the North-East need to know what sort of person is walking their streets.

"I cannot believe I was told about his release with a message on an answerphone. It was a real shock. It is a day we have dreaded."

Mr Stanyer, of Kidsgrove, said the answerphone message had been devastating, particularly for his 75-year-old father, Frank.

The self-employed painter and decorator said: "She (the case worker) said she had tried to get in touch with me and that she didn't really like leaving messages but said he (Bage) was going to be released some time in mid-March.

"She said she had asked for confirmation of the conditions of release and said she was going for two weeks holiday and wouldn't be back until the start of March.

''I was a little bit disappointed. Why couldn't she leave a message asking us to get in touch with the office?"

Mr Stanyer said his family were still haunted by the killing.

He said: "He stabbed my brother 40 times. The first three stab wounds were inflicted while he was asleep.

"He managed to stagger away but he got him again.

"He was bleeding to death. The judge said it was a pre-meditated killing of great savagery."

A spokeswoman for the Probation Service said the service could not comment on individual cases, but safeguards were in place to liaise with probation workers in the area in which a serious offender would live on their release. Licence conditions would mean he would not go unsupervised.

David Hines, of North of England Victims Association, said : "It was a horrific murder. An absolute maniac is going to be released back into the community. It is appalling the way the family found out."