John Lennon's murderer Mark Chapman has been told he cannot leave prison after having his bid for parole rejected by a board for the ninth time. The parole board told Chapman that although he was progressing well, he could not yet be released, partly after hearing from Lennon's widow Yoko Ono who said she feared for her own safety, the safety of her children and that of her husband's killer.

Now aged 61, Chapman shot Lennon four times on the doorstep of the 40-year-old Liverpool singer's New York apartment in the city's Dakota building on 8 December 1980, a crime that shocked music fans across the world. Artist Yoko witnessed the murder. Chapman had earlier asked the star for his autograph - a moment that was captured in a chilling photograph. At his trial, Chapman pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life.

Chapman's appeal was rejected even though he now accepted what he had done was "premeditated, selfish and evil". The board found he had made efforts to educate and improve himself and was still married to Gloria Hiroko with whom he is allowed conjugal relations at the upstate Wende Correctional Facility. He has had a "clean" prison record since 1994, the New York Daily News reports, and since his last bid was rejected in 2014 five people have written to appeal on his behalf.

However, the board heard that two letters were also received requesting that Chapman not be released, and that one of these was from from Yoko. She said she still feared for her own safety, as well as that of the two sons she had with Lennon, Sean and Julian. In earlier letters, Yoko had said she was also worried that a fan of the Beatles star may avenge his death by attacking Chapman.

The killer's appeal was rejected for the ninth time. The board said: "From our interview and review of your records, we find that your release would be incompatible with the welfare of society and would so deprecate that seriousness of the crime as to undermine respect for the law." Chapman must now wait till August 2018 before he can reapply. (BBC).

Mark Chapman John Lennon mugshots
John Lennon's murderer Mark Chapman (pictured here in 1980 and 2016) has had his bid for freedom rejected again NYCPD/New York Department of Corrections