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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 15:54 GMT
Case intensifies probation focus
Mary-Ann Leneghan
Mary-Ann's killing again puts the spotlight on probation services
It is "vital" for the probation service that lessons are learned from the Mary-Ann Leneghan trial, Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said.

He was speaking after a gang, including four men on probation, were found guilty of killing the 16-year-old.

The Leneghan case will be studied as part of his review of the probation system. He is due to report to Commons on changes needed in April.

A string of high-profile crimes have been committed by supervised offenders.

They include the murder of wealthy financier John Monckton and that of teacher Robert Symons, both in London, and the killing of Nottingham jeweller Marian Bates.

Mr Clarke is looking at the system in the wake of these cases and will present a series of proposals to change the system.

'Tragic death'

He described the Leneghan case as "dreadful". She was stabbed to death, and her friend survived being shot in the head, after both girls were subjected to a three-hour ordeal of rape and torture.

Four of their attackers - drug-dealer Adrian Thomas, 20, of Battersea, and fellow gang-members Michael Johnson, 19, of Southfields, Jamaile Morally, 22, of Balham, and Indrit Krasniqi, 18, of Chiswick - were under supervision in the community.

I will not hesitate to add any further issues raised by this case to the conclusions I will be presenting to the Commons
Home Secretary
Charles Clarke

The Home Secretary said: "I deeply regret the tragic death of Mary-Ann Leneghan and my thoughts and sympathies go out to Mary-Ann's family and friends as well as to the other victim in this dreadful case.

"Public protection remains my absolute priority and it will continue to guide this Government's policies and practices.

"It is always disturbing when a serious crime is committed by offenders under supervision in the community.

"It is vital that we learn any lessons we can from these cases and take any steps necessary to ensure that offenders are properly managed and the public are properly protected.

"In his report into the murder of John Monckton, Andrew Bridges identified a number of areas where we need to make improvements in the management and risk assessment of offenders in the community.

"I am already looking at whether there are any other areas where changes need to be made and will not hesitate to add any further issues raised by this case to the conclusions that I will be presenting to the House of Commons by the end of Easter."

The Conservative MP for Reading East, Robert Wilson is calling for a public inquiry into the probation system.

"We need an inquiry to look at firstly the system - whether it's structured right, whether it's resourced right, whether it can cope with what's been placed upon it.

"So there's a whole series of things about the system that we need to look at in terms of the nuts and bolts. Also, as to whether this National Offender Management Service that Charles Clarke seems to be putting more and more emphasis on is actually working."

Reoffending chances

In February, the report from chief inspector of probation Andrew Bridges concluded there was a "collective failure" in the supervision on Mr Monckton's killers Damien Hanson and Elliot White.

Hanson murdered Mr Monckton during a robbery at his home three months after being let out of jail halfway through a 12-year sentence for attempted murder.

John Monckton
A report into Mr Monckton's murder criticised offender management

He was rarely out of prison since the age of 14 and an official assessment calculated that his chances of reoffending were 91%.

But he was managed at the lowest risk level following his release.

White was out on bail awaiting a court appearance on heroin and cocaine charges, for which he was later sentenced to three years.

Mr Bridges report found the handling of the pair by the authorities illustrated "the exact opposite of effective offender management".

Hanson was not referred to a multi-agency public protection teams (Mappas) used to manage the most dangerous offenders, despite the fact that "he quite clearly should have been".

At the time of the murder, Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of probation union Napo, said the London Probation Service had been in "financial chaos" and was experiencing a recruitment freeze.

Out on licence

On Wednesday, crack addict Yusuf Bouhaddaou was jailed for life for the murder of teacher Robert Symons at his home in Chiswick, west London.

Mr Symons, 45, was stabbed in the heart with a large kitchen knife when he disturbed the burglar in the home he shared with his wife, Linda Davies, and their two young daughters.

Just five weeks before the October 2004 murder, Bouhaddaou was released on licence from a five-and-a-half-year sentence which included four years for a series of domestic burglaries.

He said he had committed a number of burglaries after leaving prison to fund his drug addiction.

He was under the supervision of the probation service at the time he killed Mr Symons.

Victor Bates
Marian Bates' widower Victor has called for changes

In 2005, an official report criticised probation workers and an electronic tagging company for errors in the supervision of Peter Williams.

He murdered Nottingham jeweller Marian Bates in September 2003 in her family shop as she tried to shield her daughter Xanthe from attack.

The report said the authorities failed to act quickly enough when the teenager's behaviour went off the rails in the weeks before her killing.

He had repeatedly breached his curfew order and removed the electronic tag that was supposed to restrict his movements but little was done. The then 19-year-old was a cocaine addict who had been in trouble with the law since the age of 11 for offences including burglary and indecent assault.

He had been released from a young offenders institution on licence only 20 days before Mrs Bates' murder.

The probation inspectorate found he had failed to attend a string of meetings with youth offending and drug workers, education staff and the police.

They were breaches of the terms of his licence which could have resulted in his return to custody.





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