Britain's most notorious female paedophile is to be released from prison after 'showing remorse' for abusing up to 30 infants in her care.
Former nursery worker Vanessa George, 49, photographed herself abusing dozens of babies and toddlers and sent the sickening images to fellow perverts.
Yesterday her ex-husband Andrew said he was 'staggered' by the Parole Board's decision.
Victims of the predator, who are now secondary school age, were said to be 'horrified'.
One victim attended George's parole hearing to read out a statement describing the trauma they suffered in the hope of preventing her release.
Amid mounting fury, Justice Secretary David Gauke faced calls to urgently review the decision.
For a decade, the parents of infants at Little Ted's Nursery in Plymouth, Devon, have faced the agony of not knowing what happened to their children. George, a mother of two teenage daughters, refused to name which of the 30 babies and toddlers on a police shortlist she attacked. This was despite trial judge Mr Justice Royce pleading with her, saying: 'If I were a parent, I would want to know’.
George was jailed in December 2009 for what the judge said 'plumbed new depths of depravity'.
The 18-stone paedophile was given an indeterminate sentence with a minimum term of seven years, which meant she could be set free only if the Parole Board considered she was no longer a threat to public safety.
Mr Justice Royce told her: 'I cannot emphasize too strongly that this is not a seven-year sentence. It is emphatically not. It is, in effect, a life sentence. Many, and I suspect everyone so deeply affected by your dreadful deeds, will say that would not be a day too long’.
After the sentencing, one anguished parent lunged towards the dock and threatened to kill George.
The Parole Board released its ruling yesterday, saying that George, who has reverted to her maiden name Vanessa Marks, no longer posed a significant risk.
Her ex-husband Andrew George, who divorced the paedophile after learning of her appalling activities, said he feared she had 'manipulated' board members.
Mr George, 51, said her crimes had left him a 'broken man', adding: 'I am staggered. I just don't know what to say’.
Crime that shocked the nation
The depravity of Vanessa George’s crimes shocked the nation.
George admitted 13 sexual assault charges in October 2009, but the depraved classroom assistant maintained a cruel silence over the names of children she sexually assaulted.
She and her accomplices, Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen, became ‘Facebook friends’ before setting up a three-way communication network through which they exchanged thousands of increasingly explicit messages.
They used mobile phones to film and send images of what a senior police officer described as ‘child abuse in its most horrific and devilish form’.
Police believe George came into contact with nearly 200 children while working at Little Ted’s Nursery, although they shortlisted the number of victims abused to up to 30. Their faces were not shown in the images, which made identification impossible.
The 18-stone paedophile used a cubicle to change children’s nappies rather than the general changing area, which allowed her to hide her abuse.
The court heard George regularly showed colleagues, and even parents, hardcore pornographic images of adults on her phone, and openly discussed her sex life.
Doctors have warned Mr George that he may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. 'While she'll be returned to society, possibly with a new look and identity, I face a life sentence knowing that for me this nightmare will never disappear,' he said.
He demanded that the board fully explain why it thinks George has changed her ways, adding: 'Vanessa is manipulative and she's like the leopard which never changes its spots. She should have stayed locked up’.
The Parole Board said George 'presented as showing remorse for her actions', adding that she had attended courses to address her sexual offending and 'risk factors' at the time of offending.
These included 'seeking intimacy and focusing on her needs to the detriment of others, being self-centred, being desperately keen to be liked and avoid confrontation, rigid thinking, low self-esteem, an ability to override major taboos and insecurity and dependency'.
Prison staff said she had been well behaved behind bars.
George will face strict conditions when she walks out of prison, probably in September.
She will be banned from using social media, having any contact with children, going to the Plymouth area. Taxpayers will have to pay for 'enhanced monitoring' at a probation hostel.
Harry Fletcher, from the Victims' Rights Campaign, said: 'These were horrific crimes against innocent children. I can understand why the victims in this case are utterly horrified by this decision’.
Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, said: 'Vanessa George's crimes against children in Plymouth cannot be forgotten and it's very hard to forgive her for them’.
Sentences to protect the public
Intederminate sentences for public protection (IPPs) were introduced in 2005 to keep offenders behind bars indefinitely unless they prove they are fit for release.
For the first time, it enabled judges to set a minimum term, but no maximum sentence to be served.
However, some inmates convicted of relatively minor crimes languished in jail for years, causing the European courts to overturn the policy in 2012.
Despite abolition, nearly 2,500 prisoners sentenced under the law remain behind bars, unsure of when they will be released.
Black-cab rapist John Worboys was among the first of the more serious cases to be freed, but the decision was later overturned in the courts and he pleaded guilty to further offences last month.
There are several other notorious killers, rapists and terrorists on IPP sentences who are due for release after serving their minimum term.
Vanessa George’s cohort, Angela Allen, who raped a girl of three, has already served the five-year minimum of her IPP sentence imposed in December 2009.
The ringleader of the paedophile gang, Colin Blanchard, who was jailed in 2011 for a minimum of nine years, will also be eligible for parole shortly.
Two other members of the paedophile ring, Tracy Dawber and Tracy Lyons, were sentenced to four years and seven years respectively.
He added: 'I know I can't and that's why her release from jail is a kick in the teeth for our city and all her victims.
'I am very concerned about the safety of our city's children with the imminent release of Vanessa George and have today written to the Justice Secretary asking for the decision to be urgently reviewed in light of the public outcry and continuing risk to children that I believe she poses’.
Peter Saunders, from the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: 'Some of these people can be very convincing that they are not going to pose a danger to children again.
'I think that unless the Parole Board is 100 per cent certain and how can they be, that it is safe to release them before they have served their sentence is questionable.
'If they are going to be released, it is our opinion that they must be electronically tagged and monitored for the rest of their days to ensure they do not pose a risk to children’.
The Parole Board said families involved at the time of sentencing had been contacted and the panel considered victims' personal statements.
At the time of George's conviction, parents spoke anonymously of her betrayal.
One mother, who had two children at the nursery, said: 'I used to pick up my son and daughter from Vanessa George and she would come out smiling, laughing and having a joke.
The worst thing is knowing now what she must have been doing to children that day. It's awful’.
A Parole Board spokesman said: 'Parole Board decisions are solely focused on whether a prisoner would represent a significant risk to the public after release. The panel will have carefully looked at a whole range of evidence, including details of the original evidence and any evidence of behaviour change.
He added: 'This is done with great care and public safety is the No 1 priority’.