Kathleen Griffin death: Torture killer 'could have been stopped'

Kathleen Griffin Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Kathleen Griffin was described as kind-hearted and generous

A woman was tortured and killed by a man who authorities should have stopped from living with her, a report said.

Kathleen Griffin, 57, was tied up and stabbed to death by Scott Hilling in Clacton, Essex, in December 2015.

He had been charged with assaulting her earlier that year - which was later dropped - and began living with her on his release from custody in September.

A report said he should have been re-housed "as a matter of urgency" and her death "could have been prevented".

Ms Griffin took 25-year-old Hilling in on his release from court for an offence unrelated to the alleged assault.

But two months later she was tortured with a scalpel then stabbed to death by Hilling, who stripped her and tried to burn the body.

He was jailed for 16 years after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Scott Hilling was jailed for Kathleen Griffin's killing

Tendring Community Safety Partnership has published an anonymised Domestic Homicide Review (DHR), which the BBC understands relates to Ms Griffin's death.

The review's key findings include:

  • Hilling "slipped through the mental health service net", having being released from custody without medication and GPs were unaware of his need for mental health treatment
  • Ms Griffin only took him in after no accommodation had been arranged for him when he left custody
  • Probation officers "failed to identify the previous domestic abuse of his ex-partner, or the risk of further abuse to future partners"
  • Had previous risk assessments been read, Hilling staying at Ms Griffin's one-bedroom flat "should definitely have been rejected immediately"
  • Hilling's breaches of his suspended sentence order "went unchecked and unchallenged for too long"
  • When he was due to be returned to custody for a breach in December there was no "care of address" to send a summons, which meant he was "probably unaware he should have been in court" and an arrest warrant was issued
  • Although warrant arrest-time procedures were adhered to, intelligence which should have shown him to be a high-risk domestic abuse offender was not checked and a history of unprosecuted assaults was not considered
Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Kathleen Griffin had helped Hilling because he was homeless

In its conclusions the report said: "A series of small omissions in systems and procedures, which in themselves appear insignificant, had a devastating outcome for [Ms Griffin] and her family."

In total, 11 different agencies were given recommendations by the DHR authors - the most were to Essex Community Rehabilitation Company (ECRC), which was supervising Hilling's probation at the time of the killing.

Image caption Kathleen Griffin was fatally stabbed at her home in Old Street, Clacton

A spokeswoman for ECRC said it had "subsequently developed, implemented and completed a full action plan in response to the recommendations".

Essex Police was asked to urgently review its policy in relation to arrest warrants.

A force spokesman said it "accepted the findings of the report and implemented its recommendations".

He added: "We are dedicated to continuing to improve the services and support to victims of domestic abuse.

"This includes the introduction of an extra 21 officers specialising in domestic abuse thanks to the increase of our share of the 2018-19 council tax."

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