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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'