Student murders: Police 'must learn hard lessons'

A sergeant has been disciplined after an independent investigation found "plainly unacceptable" errors in police actions that left Dano Sonnex free to kill.



The Independent Police Complaints Commission will now write to all police forces in England and Wales to highlight concerns raised by the case.

It found that "significant individual and organisational errors" led to a 16-day delay in taking Sonnex off the streets.

Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the IPCC, said: "The failing on the part of the police was the result of confusion, poor communication and weak procedures and hard lessons must be learnt.

"It was a missed opportunity to stop Dano Sonnex and protect Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez from the terrible threat he posed."

Ms Glass said if officers had acted more quickly they "could potentially have prevented the deaths of two innocent young men".

She added: "To fully understand how Sonnex was out on licence and in a position to harm others so violently one must look at the catalogue of failures by the wider criminal justice system.

"The police response was plainly unacceptable - but the overall failure to protect Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez lies with the wider criminal justice system as a whole and all agencies involved must take responsibility."



The IPCC report found the Ministry of Justice informed Lewisham borough council of a recall to prison notice for Sonnex on June 13 last year.

He had been arrested for handling stolen goods while out on licence for a previous knife attack and robbery, and remanded in custody but then bailed.

But it took 16 days for police to respond to the notice and did not visit Sonnex's home until June 29, hours after the students were murdered.

The report found the notice was not dealt with as a matter of urgency and that "confusion, misinterpretation and poor communication between an inspector, sergeant and constable resulted in a serious delay" in the arrest.

Police had only been told of the notice seven weeks after the initial arrest and four weeks after Sonnex had been given unconditional bail.

The matter was treated as a "standard" rather than an "emergency" recall but the 96-hour target to return him to prison was still breached.

"The recall was complicated by some intelligence suggesting that Sonnex had been in possession of firearms.

"However, if the sergeant in this case had communicated better and effectively and assessed the risk, this delay could have been avoided," the report said.

"The investigation found the sergeant did not perform his duties adequately.

"This was a breach of the police code of conduct and he has received a disciplinary warning."

The Met has now put in place a "requirement for a continuous risk assessment to take place" when dealing with licence recall following a recommendation by the IPCC, the report said.

It also looked into the handling of Sonnex's attack on a pregnant woman two days after his earlier release from prison in February.

The woman and her partner were tied up and threatened in an incident which bore striking similarities to the murders of the students but no further action was taken against Sonnex as they were too terrified to give evidence.

Investigators found that the system of recording Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) details was "inadequate" meaning borough officers were unaware of the need to get in touch with borough officers and the probation team.

The IPCC said it was satisfied action had been taken to rectify the situation.

It also found the detective constable who investigated the assault and visited the victims several times did inform the probation service of his concerns.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home