Inquiry into rapist's death blaze 'should not be a witch hunt'

A public inquiry into how a convicted sex offender was able to kill himself and his family in a deliberate house fire should not become a witch hunt, social workers warned today.

Stormont's health committee is considering calling for a public probe into alleged failings in how the authorities managed double rapist Arthur McElhill before he torched the family home in Omagh, County Tyrone.



A coroner ruled this week that the 36-year-old heavy drinking depressive, who was abusing a teenage babysitter in the months before the fire and had a history of suicide attempts, doused the hallway of the Lammy Crescent terraced house with petrol and lit it when his partner Lorraine McGovern, 29, threatened to leave him.



Lesley McDowell, chairman of the British Association of Social Workers in Northern Ireland (BASW), said: "BASW doesn't feel that the public inquiry should be used as a witch hunt looking to blame certain professions but rather as an exercise to look at where failings or shortfalls occurred and to decide on measures that will improve the service offered and prevent a similar tragedy happening again.



"Lessons need to be learned from this tragedy and a public inquiry is needed to highlight them."



The couple and their five young children all died in the inferno in November 2007.



Yesterday health minister Michael McGimpsey said he had asked the author of a report into the tragedy to confirm recommendations he made have been implemented.



Henry Toner QC criticised how different agencies communicated information about the type of man McElhill was.



His review made 63 recommendations in 2008 and Mr Toner has been asked to verify they have now been implemented.



The Western Health Trust has implemented 54 of its 55 recommendations.



Other recommendations were made for a range of agencies including the Department of Health and the PSNI.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness