The family of a woman murdered by her sadistic boyfriend in 1994 has expressed horror that her killer could be free within three years The battered body of Emma Knight was discovered at a house in Valentia Road, Headington.

It emerged in court that John Puffett beat her with a baseball bat, a two foot-long metal pipe and a dumbbell, before drowning her in the bath. She had suffered 141 injuries.

Puffett was convicted in July 1995 of murdering the 20-year-old and sentenced to life in prison.

But Miss Knight's sisters Paula and Tracey burst into tears after discovering that Puffett could be released in 2009, after just 15 years behind bars, including time spent on remand.

The family realised Puffett could be freed after reading the Oxford Mail on Saturday.

Miss Knight was in a relationship with Puffett from the age of 15. They had three children, although two girls - Joy and Courtney - died as babies.

Emma's niece Carrie-Ann Knight, 20, said: "I would say to that judge - are you seriously looking into that man's eyes and saying he should only be inside for 15 years?

"Have you looked at the pictures of what he did to her frail little body? I'd ask him if that had happened to one of your own family, would you let him out so soon? A life for a life is only right."

Judge Mr Justice Butterfield reviewed Puffett's case at the Royal Courts of Justice last Thursday and set his minimum tariff at 15 years.

Tracey Knight, 36, said: "The kids say to me what happens when that man comes out? And I don't know what to say."

Carrie-Ann Knight, who was eight at the time of her aunt's death, still has nightmares about Puffett.

She said: "Nobody's going to treat him any differently because people round here are so scared of him. But we've got the memories of what he did to Emma burned into our brains."

The family is angry with the criminal justice system for giving Puffett the chance to start a new life in his early 40s.

Paula Knight, 37, said: "They've got it all wrong. They're ramming in the petty criminals and letting out the murderers and paedophiles. That's where the jail spaces are going."

Puffett denied having anything to do with the killing and showed no remorse. His lawyers claimed he raised the alarm and tried to revive Miss Knight.

Tracey Knight said: "Emma was gorgeous. My best memory of her is singing like an angel."