handcuffs
Timothy Pauley was responsible for the murder of three people at a tavern in Washington in 1980REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

A murderer was awarded an additional 20 years in jail when he approached the Department of Corrections' Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board in the hope of an early parole. Timothy Pauley was hoping to convince the board that his good behaviour behind bars for 35 years would earn him a reprieve.

But he was in for a shock when they instead increased his time after finding that the original sentence was too mild in relation to the crime committed.

In 1980, Pauley, then 21, and his accomplice Scott C Smith were held responsible for the murder of three people at a SeaTac area tavern in Washington state and were later convicted of three counts of first degree murder.

"Mr Pauley's role in the murders was egregious," according to a statement released by the board. "He had the gun and was responsible for shooting the male victims to death despite the fact that they were already tied up in the cooler and posed no threat to Mr Pauley or his co-defendant."

With the addition of two decades, the 56-year-old will only be eligible for parole by 2031 at which point he will be 71 years old. If the parole board had approved of Pauley's early release, he would have been freed by early 2018.

However, the families of the victims opposed it along with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Congressman Dave Reichert, who had investigated the murders. "I realise 35 years is a long time," Angie Dowell, the daughter of two of the victims said after the January hearing. "It wasn't long enough."