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.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam