The man who shot movie star-turned US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has received a New Year's gift from a federal judge in Washington DC - the chance to spend more time with his family.

JOHN HINCKLEY JR has been granted the opportunity to leave Washington DC's St Elizabeth's Hospital, where he has been incarcerated since 1982, to visit his parents in Virginia.

Until now, Hinckley Jr has only been allowed to leave the mental hospital for supervised walks around the capital, but now he'll be able to go home for seven-night periods at a time.

Since 2004, Hinkley Jr has been allowed occasional overnight visits with his parents within a 50-mile radius of the hospital.

In making his decision late last week (ends30DEC05), Federal Judge PAUL L FRIEDMAN declared that Hinckley Jr is not permitted to leave "one or both parents' supervision at any time during the course of the conditional release."

Hinckley Jr shot Reagan and three others in an attack in 1981 but was found not guilty of attempted murder on insanity grounds. His lawyers explained in court that he was psychotic and carried out the shooting in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, who he was obsessed with.