Bail 'complacency' blamed for fatal stabbing

Nigel Morris,Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 29 April 2008 00:00

A "lackadaisical" attitude towards offenders released on bail has been blamed for the fatal stabbing of a man on a London bus.

Richard Whelan, 28, was killed three years ago by Anthony Joseph after he asked the paranoid schizophrenic to stop throwing chips at his girlfriend.

Joseph was free on bail – despite there being an outstanding warrant for his arrest – when he killed Mr Whelan. On 10 June 2005 he had been arrested by Surrey police and remanded in custody for allegedly abducting and having sex with a 15-year-old girl. The charges were dropped, but he should have been detained as Merseyside police had a warrant out for his arrest in connection with a burglary.

Detectives in Liverpool did not know Joseph had been in custody because the Police National Computer had not been updated, and he was released on 29 July. Just six hours later he killed Mr Whelan, a hospitality worker, in Holloway, north London.

Prior to the killing he was also repeatedly bailed to a non-existent address in Camden, north London, by magistrates. Joseph, 23, was sent to Broadmoor secure hospital last year after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The report, compiled for Vera Baird, the Solicitor General, said there was nothing in his history of petty offending that could have forecast that he would go on to kill.

But it added: "There seems to be too ready an acceptance of the commission of offences while on bail, insufficient rigour in respect of checking the validity of proposed bail conditions, and an apparent acceptance of the continual breach of bail conditions."

Nick Herbert, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: "This report is a damning indictment of a culture of complacency towards bail.

"Reform is needed so that bail conditions are properly enforced and defendants know that breaches will result in immediate action."

*A judge has said he despairs about the number of community service sentences that "just don't work". Judge Peter Jacobs said that judges are told that prisons are full – and that community orders are not effective. He was speaking at Norwich Crown Court while sentencing a 19-year-old for a string of offences.

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