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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 15:58 GMT
Occult killing inquiry no 'whitewash'
Diego  Piniera-Villar
Diego was stabbed in front of onlookers in London
An inquiry into the murder of a 12-year-old boy at the hands of an occult fanatic was not a "whitewash" according to the agencies involved.

The blame for Diego Pineiro's frenzied killing lay solely with his killer, they claim.

However campaigners calling for changes in mental health treatment say scores of reports into similar incidents have gone unheeded.

Edward Crowley stabbed Diego 30 times in front of onlookers in Covent Garden, central London, in May 2000.

At the time however, there was no legal means of removing the mentally unstable homeless drifter from the community, a report into the case concluded.

We accept there are many things we could have done differently and we will learn from that

Jane Held, Camden Social Services
As the report of the year-long investigation was released on Friday, organisations involved in the inquiry admitted they had not operated as well as they could have done.

The report stated that in the weeks before the killing, Crowley was out of contact with mental health services.

Nearly 60 recommendations have been made by the report, which highlights a lack of communication between social, mental health and child protection services.

It also criticised the police for the way it investigated Crowley after Diego's family reported him for harassing the boy, and the Crown Prosecution Service for being badly prepared for Crowley's subsequent court appearance.

Edward Crowley
Edward Crowley was obsessed with the occult
Jane Held, director of Camden Social Services who spoke on behalf of all the agencies involved, said: "This is not a whitewash because Edward Crowley is to blame.

"We accept there are many things we could have done differently and we will learn from that.

"But even if we had done them differently, tragically the death could not have been foreseen or prevented."

However Michael Howlett, from mental health campaigners the Zito Trust, said: "What has been happening recently is that we're told lessons need to be learned.

"One of the issues we raised at the time of the killing [of Diego] was about trying to find out whether there was anywhere Crowley could have been sent after being released on bail.

Harassment charge

"But what actually happened was that even though the criminal justice system was aware of the particular danger he posed to this boy, he was still released into the community.

"There have been 100 reports released since the Clunis inquiry in 1994 which have all contained recommendations about the improvements in mental health services, but I wonder whether they will ever actually be implemented."

Six weeks after Crowley was released on bail on the harassment charge, he found Diego in Covent Garden and stabbed him more than 20 times.

During a court appearance on the harassment accusation, it was concluded his condition was not serious enough to warrant being held in custody under the Mental Health Act.

Crowley, who changed his name after becoming obsessed with occult writer Aleister Crowley, refused to accept that Diego wanted to end their friendship.

'Police blame'

The court hearing in to the murder heard Crowley, who had gone swimming with the youngster, had also bought the boy presents.

No sexual abuse had taken place during their friendship.

Diego's mother Maria-Angeles Villar-Fernandez said after Crowley was jailed: "I blame the police as much as this criminal for what happened.

"I believe they did not do enough to protect my boy."

Among its recommendations, the report calls for better police training in cases like this.

The BBC's Danny Shaw
"Crowley's release placed the boy at risk"
Director of Camden Social Services, Jane Held
"You cannot take risk right out of the system"

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See also:

07 Feb 01 | UK
The child safety catch
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