A man previously convicted of murdering two gay men in separate attacks has absconded from day release amid suspicions of killing a retired company director who tried to stop him from attacking an elderly paedophile at the weekend.

A nationwide search for Ian John McLoughlin, 55, follows the death of Graham Buck, 66, in Hertfordshire on Saturday.

Mr Buck, a grandfather and father of three, was stabbed to death as he tried to help Francis Cory-Wright, 87, in the village of Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire.

The 66-year-old had responded to his neighbour’s frantic cries for help during a suspected robbery.

Police have named double killer Ian John McLoughlin as their suspect.

He has served 22 years of a life sentence for the homophobic murder of Brighton barman Peter Halls, who was aged 56 at the time of his death in July 1992. He died after being stabbed in the neck.

McLoughlin was jailed for 10 years in October 1983 in relation to the death of another gay man, 49-year-old Len Delgatty, from Stoke Newington in east London. He died after suffering head injuries inflicted by a hammer.

Officers believe that McLoughlin travelled from prison to rob Mr Wright, a convicted paedophile who had served time in the same place as the suspect.

Mr Cory-Wright was jailed for 30 months in 2011 for indecently assaulting a 10-year-old boy in the 1970s. He was said to be in poor health. He was treated in hospital after the attack, but has since been discharged.

Hertfordshire Police said McLoughlin is “extremely dangerous” and should not be approached.

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