A triple child killer is back behind bars after it was revealed he had been on unescorted day trips from jail.

David McGreavy, who slaughtered three siblings, was allowed out on day trips from Ford Open Prison in preparation for his eventual release.

He is now thought to be under lock and key in Lewes Prison at his own request, as he feared he might be attacked after the revelations on Monday.

McGreavy, 54, was sentenced to life in 1973 for the murders of Paul Ralph, four, Dawn, two, and Samantha, nine months.

He was babysitting when he slit the throat of the baby and her sister before strangling their older brother with curtain wire while he was a lodger at their home.

McGreavy then took their bodies into the garden, where he impaled them on railings The children's family say the murderer should spend the rest of his life in jail but instead he has been allowed to roam freely through the streets of Sussex without supervision for up to one day a month during the past year.

Ford Open Prison said McGreavy, who was nicknamed the Monster of Worcester following the children's murders in the town, was granted day release following rigorous assessment by a multi-agency panel including members of the National Probation Service.

The final decision allowing him out of prison is made by the Home Office, which is preparing for his eventual release. A spokesman for the Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases or confirm McGreavy had been moved.

The family is writing to the Home Secretary to protest at his release.

McGreavy has been on visits to Liverpool from Ford during the past six weeks Ian Menzies, a Liberal Democrat member of Arun District Council, said: "I may be a cynic but I think he will be in Lewes for a while until the fuss dies down and then he will be quietly released.

"But on the face of it, it's good news for local people he is in a more secure prison."

This is the latest of a number of criticisms of Ford, where prison officers last year told how inmates were coming and going on shopping trips.

In 2004, The Argus reported how the prison had one of the worst records in Britain for keeping track of inmates.

More than 50 who had absconded since 1998 were never to return, while more than 100 prisoners absconded from the prison during 2004.

Last March, The Argus revealed how inmates at Ford were being let out and were receiving a full wage to work as bus drivers around Arundel, Worthing and Chichester.