For første gang har et mordoffers pårørende vunnet frem med krav om en full høring om hvorfor menneskerettighetene til voldtektsmannen som drepte datteren ble vektet høyere enn publikums sikkerhet. Høringen kommer til å omfatte hele det britiske rettsystemet, og saken forventes å skape presedens.
Tilfellet der den karrierekriminelle Anthony Rice fikk permisjon fra en livstidsdom for kort etter å myrde 40 år gamle Naomi Bryant i hennes eget hjem, er regnet for Storbritannias verste eksempel på at kriminelles rettigheter blir satt foran det lovlydige publikums. Alle offentlige institusjoner som har vært involvert vil bli tvunget til å forklare seg for offentligheten, etter at drapsofferets mor og borgerrettighetsgruppen Liberty vant retten til å få gjenåpnet saken. Verna Bryants medhjelpere og støtter håper at saken vil føre til «seismiske endringer» i det britiske rettsvesenet.
Rice hadde 22 dommer bak seg – dommer som inkluderte overfall på unge jenter – og var egentlig ansett som for farlig for permisjon/løslatelse. I 2001 konkluderte en psykolog med at det var 72 prosents sannsynlighet for at Rice ville pådra seg nye dommer for seksuelle overfall hvis han slapp ut. En permisjonskomite fokuserte imidlertid utelukkende på Rice`s menneskerettigheter og innvilget permisjon, samtidig som menneskerettighetene ble benyttet til å gi ham svært avslappede vilkår under frigangen. Under frigangen ble han plassert på et hospits i en landsby, der han angrep en kvinne med en murstein og noen måneder senere kvalte Naomi Bryant og påførte henne 16 knivstikk før han gjemte liket under Bryants egen seng. Der ble hun funnet av offerets 14 år gamle datter.
A murder victim’s elderly mother is to drag the entire criminal justice system into the dock at a landmark inquest.
Because it has already been established that Miss Bryant was unlawfully killed, Hampshire coroner Grahame Short will deliver a so-called ‘narrative verdict’ in which he is free to criticise all those involved for the litany of blunders which allowed Rice to strike.
Verna Bryant’s daughter Naomi was killed by a rapist who had been freed from a life sentence because his human rights were placed ahead of protecting the public.
Anthony Rice also used the threat of human rights action to secure a relaxation of his licence conditions – making it easier for him to kill.
Those to be called at the inquest include the Ministry of Justice, probation service, parole board and MAPPA, a panel of police and other experts supposed to supervise freed danger men.
Bryant´s mor sier hun håper at saken vil forhindre at enda en familie opplever det samme som seg selv.
Mrs Bryant told the Daily Mail: ‘My daughter had human rights too until Anthony Rice took them away.’
Full inquests are not normally held into murders, with the finding of how the victim died being left to the criminal courts. But, because Rice pleaded guilty, the full details were not heard in court. The Government carried out an inquiry into the killing, but in private.
Mrs Bryant, backed by the civil rights group Liberty, was determined a full public inquiry should take place. Liberty also used the Human Rights Act to demand that Mr Short – who had decided there would be no inquest – reopen the case.
The coroner agreed that, under Article 2 of the Act – the right to life – he would investigate at an inquest whether public bodies could be held responsible for the murder.
Liberty’s legal officer, Anna Fairclough, who requested the public inquest for the family, said: ‘It should make clear that their tragic loss might have been avoided if the authorities involved had been more alert to the warning signs.’
Regjeringens egen rapport om saken har allerede funnet at Rice ble satt fri til å myrde fordi offentlige tjenestemenn valgte å sette hans menneskerettigheter foran publikums sikkerhet.
Chief Inspector of Probation Andrew Bridges said the career criminal – who had 22 convictions including assaults on young girls – should have been considered too dangerous to release.
But he was allowed back on to the streets by a Parole Board which placed ‘increasing focus’ on his human rights rather than keeping the public safe.
His licence conditions were later changed to allow him to stay out until 11pm to attend pub quizzes – even though he had in the past tried to rape a woman at knifepoint while drunk.
A litany of blunders
* Prison staff and Parole Board were not informed that Rice had a history in Scotland of sex attacks against young girls.
* In January 2001 a psychologist concluded there was a 72 per cent likelihood he would be convicted of a sexual offence again within 20 years but he was rated only a ‘high’ rather than ‘very high’ risk.
* He was not banned from drinking alcohol upon his release, despite a previous attempted rape committed while drunk.
* Electronic tagging was never even considered.
* Rice was placed in a hostel run by a charity in a village despite it having only ‘ limited’ security arrangements. Residents were given their own keys.
* Hostel staff and police were unaware that Rice assaulted a woman with a brick four months before the Bryant murder. He was left feeling ‘he could do anything and get away with it’.