Clarke orders inquiry after robber freed to kill
• Damien Hanson murdered John Monckton while out on parole
• Released after being assessed as 91% likely to re-offend
• Parole board could not interview Hanson as measure scrapped to cut costs
"It is essential that we have in place systems to deal with violent offenders which are as rigorous as possible and minimise the risk to the public that such offenders may pose" - Charles Clarke, Home Secretary
Story in full CHARLES Clarke, the Home Secretary, has announced an urgent investigation into why a violent robber and convicted drug dealer was released on parole to kill the financier John Monckton.
Damien Hanson, 24, was granted parole after partially completing a 12-year prison sentence for attempted murder - even though parole board members had never met him.
The process of interviewing offenders had been scrapped four months previously.
Three months later, Hanson fatally stabbed John Monckton and seriously injured his wife, Homeyra, at their home in Chelsea, London.
Hanson had been in and out of prison since the age of 14 and an official assessment had put his chances of reoffending at 91 per cent. Despite this, a three-person parole board panel set him free in August last year on the basis of a dossier by prison and probation officials.
The automatic interviewing of offenders was scrapped in April last year because of Home Office "budgetary constraints".
The board could have asked to meet Hanson because of his "dangerous offender" status but did not. He was one of 200 dealt with by the parole board every week on the basis of a paper dossier.
He was found guilty of murdering Mr Monckton, of the attempted murder of Mrs Monckton and of conspiracy to rob at the Old Bailey in London last week.
He attacked the family in their 3 million home three months after being released.
Yesterday, his accomplice, Elliot White, 24, was found guilty of wounding with intent after stabbing Mrs Monckton.
Mr Clarke said the case raised "serious questions" over the release from prison, and subsequent supervision in the community, of the two men.
He said: "It is essential that we have in place systems to deal with violent offenders which are as rigorous as possible and minimise the risk to the public that such offenders may pose."
He said the inquiry into the murder would examine "whether there are wider implications for the release and management of offenders".
Andrew Bridges, the Chief Inspector of Probation, will head the inquiry into a series of errors by government agencies.
These will include why the probation service failed to tell police Hanson had been released for more than two months, by which time he had visited criminal friends and acquired a gun and a knife.
Furthermore, in the two weeks that the killer hid at a hostel following the attack, despite his erratic behaviour, which included missing a probation meeting, hostel staff failed to notify police.
Hanson had made a failed application for early release in 2003 which was rejected on the grounds he was still a risk.
Hanson persuaded prison officials that he was a model prisoner but he used staff and jail internet facilities to identify potential wealthy targets.
In four years, he was transferred to eight prisons, which meant there was no continuity in his assessment.
London's parole system has already been criticised by Mr Bridges after he completed an inspection of the London Probation Area in July. He said half the criminals in the city had not been assessed properly.
He concluded: "We are particularly concerned about the quality of risk-of-harm assessments and supervision plans written on offenders and the level of management oversight."
The London Probation Area, which was responsible for supervising the two men, said that it was difficult to anticipate the risk posed by criminals on release.
A spokesman said: "Despite all the measures taken, the criminal justice agencies can never fully eliminate the risks posed by dangerous offenders."
The assistant general secretary of the probation union NAPO, Harry Fletcher, welcomed the investigation, adding: "Any findings that would suggest a need for improved procedures should be acted upon without delay to minimise the possibility of any further tragedies occurring and to maximise public protection."
Hanson, who was known as "the devil's child", was meant to be paroled in Essex in order to keep him away from west London gangs. But, since the Essex hostel was full, he was moved to a hostel in south London. He was also told to visit a parole officer in Hammersmith, west London, despite being banned from the area under his parole restrictions.
Hanson was known to be obsessed with the wealthy and their diamonds. He stole jewels worth 4,000 in the Chelsea robbery. He had posed in a postman's outfit to lure Mr Monckton to the door.
The court heard how Mrs Monckton was stabbed twice in the back, suffering a fractured rib and punctured lung. She now walks with a stick. Her husband was held in a bear hug by White while Hanson stabbed him five times.
The couple's daughter, Isobel Monckton, then nine, saw the attack through the banisters and called an ambulance after the robbers left. She was not required to give evidence in court.
Detective Superintendent Mark Jackson condemned Hanson and White's "callous disregard for the Moncktons in their greed".
He said outside court: "John Monckton was a loving and devoted husband and father.
"He died trying to defend his family in their own home, where they should have been safe. Hanson and White targeted this family."
In Scotland, every prisoner is interviewed in person when they are eligible for parole. When the decision is made to release a prisoner before the end of their sentence, the parole board imposes licence restrictions that the offender must follow while in the community.
All offenders released from jail on licence are subject to supervision by local authority social workers since Scotland has no national probation service.
The level of supervision is decided by an individual "lead" officer.
Drug addict accomplice guilty of wounding with intent
THE accomplice in the Monckton robbery was cleared yesterday of attempting to murder the wife of the financier.
But Elliot White, 24, was convicted of wounding Homeyra Monckton, 46, with intent at her Chelsea home (left).
White had been found guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Monckton on Friday. He had already pleaded guilty to robbery.
White was on bail at the time of the robbery awaiting a court appearance on heroin and cocaine charges, for which he was later sentenced to three years.
White and Hanson had been friends since attending primary school in Fulham together.
White had been a star pupil, gaining ten GCSEs before becoming addicted to crack cocaine and heroin at college.
He was first arrested in 2001 and in October that year was sentenced to 18 months on four charges, including possession with intent to supply heroin and possession with intent to supply cocaine.
In 2003, he was arrested again and made the subject of a rehabilitation order. After breaching it, he was sentenced to six months' drug treatment and a testing order the following year. However, in the months before Mr Monckton's death, he tested positive for cocaine, morphine and cannabis.
Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, who described the case as "gruelling", adjourned it until February when he will sentence Hanson to life imprisonment and impose a jail term on White after psychiatric tests.
Outside court, Roy Campbell, Mrs Monckton's solicitor, appealed for the family to be left in peace. He said: "Last year, Mrs Monckton, her daughters and her family lost a husband, a father, a brother and, in short, lost John Monckton, an exemplary family man who was brutally murdered in his own house, a little under a month before Christmas."
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