Before HM Coroner Andrew Harris
Southwark Coroner’s Court
1 Tennis St, London SE1 1YD
Opens Monday 2 September 2019
Scheduled for three weeks
Five year old Alex Malcolm was brutally beaten in a park in Catford, South East London and died two days later on 22 November 2016. The then boyfriend of Alex’s mother, Marvyn Iheanacho, was later charged with his murder. It was only after this conviction that mother, Liliya Breha, was made aware of Iheanacho’s licence conditions and high risk, which was known to the National Probation Service (NPS).
An inquest will open on Monday 2 September, to explore the adequacy of Iheanacho’s supervision by the NPS, and why no steps were taken to inform Liliya of Iheanacho’s risk to her and her child. Marvyn Iheanacho had been under the supervision of the NPS after being released from prison on licence on 31 May 2016, where he had been serving a sentence for an assault on a former girlfriend.
Iheanacho’s licence conditions were that he was not to have unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16 without the prior approval of his supervising officer and social services. Liliya was informed of this for the first time following the conclusion of the criminal trial, at which Iheanacho was found guilty of Alex’s murder, when the NPS were conducting a Serious Further Offence review.
Whilst the NPS were aware of Liliya and the fact that she had a young child, they took no steps to enforce Iheanacho’s licence conditions. Iheanacho was assessed as presenting a high risk of serious harm to partners (current and future) and a medium risk to members of the public, staff and children. Liliya had been completely unaware of this prior to Alex’s death and says that had she known she would have ended the relationship.
Liliya requested that the inquest into Alex’s death be resumed to find the answers as to why no steps were taken to inform her of the known risks Iheanacho posed. The inquest will explore the actions of the NPS and whether and how any failures contributed to Alex’s death. This case is one of a series of deaths highlighting serious issues with probation services, following Chris Grayling’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ initiative which launched in 2013.
NOTES TO EDITORS
For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or email@example.com.
The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Sarah Kellas of Birnberg Peirce Ltd Solicitors and Rajeev Thacker of Garden Court Chambers.
The other interested persons represented are the National Probation Service/Ministry of Justice, the Metropolitan Police, and two probation officers who are separately represented.
Other recent deaths involving people on licence to the probation service include:
Quyen Ngoc Nguyen, 28, died in August 2017 following sexual and physical violence by two men who had been released from prison on licence and were under the supervision of the National Probation Service. The inquest exposed a ‘dysfunctional’ system for public protection. Media release.
Lisa Skidmore, 37, was killed by a man under National Probation Service supervision on 24 November 2016. The inquest identified a failure of the probation services and police to respond to a clear escalation of risk, and highlighted failures in communication between agencies involved. Media release.
Connor Marshall, 18, died in March 2015, after being attacked by a man on probation who had breached the terms of his license and missed numerous meetings. See media coverage.
Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, were killed in March 2013 by a woman who was serving a community order and was under the supervision of probation services and known to have the “potential to cause serious harm”. See media coverage.
‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ was a programme of work intended to reform the supervision of offenders in England and Wales. It was launched by Chris Grayling, then justice minister, in a white paper in May 2013. A deeply critical review of progress of the programme, published by the National Audit Office in March 2019, highlighted the admission of the Ministry of Justice that the reforms had failed to meet targets, with the NAO finding, “Although the number of reoffenders has reduced, the average number of reoffences they commit has increased significantly.”
As well as the increase in reoffending and related deaths, there has also been a significant increase in deaths of people on probation since the reforms. See: Why are so many people dying on probation in England and Wales?, an article by INQUEST Head of Policy, Rebecca Roberts.