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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine