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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Killer 'should not have been out'
Naomi Bryant
The body of Naomi Bryant was found at her Winchester home
A sex attacker who killed a mother-of-one while on licence from a life sentence was "too dangerous" to be released, a watchdog has said.

Anthony Rice, 48, was freed nine months before he stabbed Naomi Bryant in her home in Winchester in August last year.

There were "substantial deficiencies" in supervision by probation and other officials in Hampshire, Chief Inspector of Probation Andrew Bridges said.

The Probation Service said there were "clear lessons to be learned".

Rice strangled Ms Bryant, 40, and stabbed her to death only days after they had met in the city, where he was living at a charity-run hostel.

Ms Bryant's mother Verna said Rice should not have been released - or even placed into an open prison as he had been before he was freed - but hoped the report recommendations could prevent similar cases in the future.

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"Nobody's done their job properly," she said. "They should have done their homework before releasing him."

Michael McGovern, Ms Bryant's former partner and the father of their 15-year-old daughter, said the report appeared to reveal "devastating" failings.

He said he needed "time to come to terms with the appalling situation and the failure of the probation services and various other parties".

Four recommendations

Barry Crook, head of Hampshire's probation service, said it had already begun to implement new training procedures.

"We note the chief inspector's conclusion that 'highly effective management in the community would only have postponed the problem'."

"But we fully accept that more could and should have been done to manage the risks posed by Anthony Rice."

Anthony Rice
Many offenders are simply just unpredictable in what they do and you will never have a 100% fail-safe system
Probation Boards Association

Newly-appointed Home Secretary John Reid said the government would consider the report carefully and make improvements "through legislation if necessary".

Rice, who had previous convictions for indecent assault and rape, had been given a 10-year minimum term at the Old Bailey in 1989 for attempted rape.

Two parole requests were turned down before he was released in November 2004, having served more than 15 years.

The Parole Board concluded he presented only a "minimal risk".

Mr Bridges said prison and other officials were side-tracked by considering Rice's human rights above their duties to the public.

In 2001 a decision by the Parole Board to move him to an open prison, created a "momentum towards release".

And the board's final decision to free him "gave insufficient weight to the underlying nature of his risk of harm to others".

But the board had received "over optimistic" reports of Rice's progress under treatment and did not have a full picture of his previous crimes.

Rice was under the supervision of the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements, a government framework to manage violent offenders in England and Wales.

Four months before Ms Bryant's murder, he slipped out of his hostel at night and assaulted a woman with a brick in Southampton.

The report notes: "Rice later reported that he expected the police to call... but when they did not, he started to feel that he could do anything and get away with it."

The Chief Inspector of Probation recommended:

  • The National Offender Management Service give "special consideration" to prisoners sentenced to indeterminate terms.

  • Prisoners should be assessed independently of any treatment they may be receiving.

  • Priority should be given to public protection when moving prisoners serving indeterminate sentences to open jails.

  • Relevant authorities should maintain "in practice a top priority focus" on public protection, although proper attention should be given to human rights issues.

    'Effective' management

    Concerns over how released prisoners are dealt with previously made headlines after the murders of London financier John Monckton and Mary-Ann Leneghan in Reading.

    I am determined that we do everything we can to ensure that potentially dangerous offenders are properly and effectively managed
    Home Secretary John Reid

    Damien Hanson was being supervised when he killed Mr Monckton during a burglary at the family home in Chelsea, west London, in November 2004.

    And four of 16-year old Mary-Ann Leneghan killers, it later emerged, were under supervision in the community at the time of her death in 2005.

    The home secretary said: "I have already made it very clear that protecting the public is my absolute priority... and I am determined that we do everything we can to ensure that potentially dangerous offenders are properly and effectively managed. "

    Naomi Bryant's former partner blames the system

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