David Braddon's killing of Conner Marshall 'not predictable'
Probation workers could not have predicted a man under their supervision would go on to kill a teenager in a case of mistaken identity, a report has concluded. Conner Marshall, 18, from Barry, died four days after he was attacked at a Porthcawl caravan park in March 2015.
David Braddon, 26, of Caerphilly, who was being monitored at the time, was jailed for life for his murder. Mr Marshall's family claims he should have been more tightly supervised.
At the time of the killing, Braddon was being monitored by probation workers after he was convicted for drugs offences and assaulting a police officer.
A report by the National Offender Management Service found he had missed some follow-up appointments and there were times staff could have "monitored his community order more robustly". But it concluded staff could not have known he would go on to commit such a violent act.
Conner Marshall was found in a life-threatening condition after being beaten with a pole at Trecco Bay caravan park.
"Given the limitations of managing offenders subject to community orders, there was nothing the offender manager could have done which would have predicted or prevented the offence," the report said. "It is clear from the review that no one could have foreseen that David Braddon would go on to commit such a devastating offence.
"When an offender is being supervised in the community, it is simply not possible to eliminate risk altogether," it concluded. However, the review did make a number of recommendations including:
- improving the way pre-sentence reports are written up
- Wales Community Rehabilitation Company team managers should improve the way they supervise staff and risk management
- better communication probation workers to support consistent risk management
"David Braddon was a time bomb... He should have had tighter controls, better management," she said. Mr Marshall's family have been given a summary of the report, but have collected a petition of more than 2,300 signatures calling for the full version to be made public.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said serious further offences were rare but each one is taken extremely seriously and investigated fully. "Public protection is our priority and we continue carefully to consider the findings in this case," he added.
This is the first time I've seen a headline like this for an SFO. Even if SFOs were assessed as 'not predictable' papers still tended to focus on improvements needed. Different for this CRC. Do they have their own public relations department to influence media? Or is MoJ helping them out at all?
There is a Change petition campaigning for the release of the full report into the management of a probation client who murdered Conner Marshall. I would urge all to support it. A summary of a report is unacceptable. There are always vested interests in any situation and when something goes tragically wrong it is essential that as much information as possible is in the public domain. How else can you benchmark whether anything changes for the better in the future?
I would hope that issues such as this even the Probation Institute would make representations to the MoJ. Academics need to know what actually happened if excellence is the objective of practice.
I'd like to see the report but I doubt the Probation Institute or any academic will have anything to say on the matter. Although the murder may not have been prevented, a better resourced probation service would mean better supervised offenders overall. The reality is the government has stripped, cut and sold off the probation service which removed much of the "excellence", and then stripped and cut some more. Interesting this has now led to reduced offender contact/supervision, poor information sharing and downgraded pre sentence reports now written by unqualified staff. These are so far areas that have been mentioned in the SFO article. I can see this blowing up for the MoJ.
I am sure you are right in saying it's unlikely there will be any pressure from the Probation Institute to disclose the full report. But you never know, they may imagine themselves in the shoes of the victim's family.
Equally, the unions should be calling for full disclosure. If the report, which has indicated areas of concern, points to failings that may be attributable to the break-up of the probation service, then these need highlighting as much as possible. If these reports are going to be hidden from public scrutiny, there is less likelihood of any lessons being learned. There were weaknesses identified in case management and these need to be shared across the public and private probation services, even if, in the case of the latter, they prove damaging to the share price of the conglomerates.
A sad story. This happened under the government's Probation TR cuts and changes. Details are scant but the recommendations seem to touch on the impact of TR - missed appointments, pre sentence report quality and managerial risk management. If more offences like this are to be avoided the Ministry of Justice needs to get rid of Community Rehabilitation Companies and return the probation service to what it was before the privatisation and cuts. It also needs to halt the current National Probation Service's current plans (E3) to replace probation officers with unqualified staff.
Update from the Change petition. MoJ will release full report to family.
'Dear Mr and Mrs Marshall,
Please find attached a letter from Andrew Selous MP formally committing to the release of the SFO review that you have requested. Please accept my apologies for the delay in being able to provide you with this affirmative response.'
I would venture to suggest the reporting of this tragedy is an example of how everyone has been misled for years, from the time when politicians made claims that probation was about "offender management" or its purpose is to "protect the public." TR and the b/s that accompanied it has only served to reinforce the deception & confusion. Even NOMS still don't seem to be able to know what probation services do, if their "report" is quoted accurately in the press.
Through the management of Orders &/or Licences &/or Formal periods of supervision imposed by the Courts, probation staff work with those convicted of committing offences, thus the various probation services - NPS & CRC - aim to reduce the risk of further offending by engaging with those individuals, and as such there is an element of public protection inherent in the role. I would also suggest this means we manage the Order, not the 'offender'.
Probation staff are not chained 24/7 to their caseload, nor is any probation member of staff I've ever known responsible for any of their caseload committing further offences, serious or otherwise. This should not mean staff are without accountability for their professional responsibilities.
Sadly many probation managers (pre-TR) seemed to swell with pride if someone uttered the words "public protection" or "offender management", and this was the very fuzzy, prickly stick Trusts used to beat staff into submission as preparation for the TR agenda. And because it was a political stick it never really existed, except in the minds of the ambitious or the ruthless.
It is nevertheless a dreadful & terrible fact that Mr Marshall was killed and no discussion here will ease his family's loss.
I agree with the principles outlined above. As probation staff we can't remove children, but we can (and are duty bound to) share information with those who can (safeguarding social workers); we can't detain anyone under the Mental Health Act, but we can (although we're not obliged to) share our concerns with those who can (approved mental health professionals); we can't arrest anyone, but we can (and are obliged to) disclose details of known or suspected offences to those who can (police).
We used to be able to prosecute breaches on relatively straightforward grounds but this is now not so as CRCs don't want to be penalised for failures. We used to be able to request revocation of Licences, but this is now not such a clear-cut procedure as political, financial & commercial elements have to be balanced by senior managers. Those who supervise standalone tags have more professional autonomy & integrity within the courts than a qualified probation practitioner.
NOMS has neutered, neutralised & made probation even more impotent than it has ever been in over 100 years yet it still has the bare faced cheek to point a finger at probation staff in such a serious & catastrophic situation.
Lets be clear - Noms policies diluted the quality & efficacy of the pre-sentence report; Noms policies removed the time, opportunity & capacity for staff to receive meaningful professional supervision; and Noms' double-speak, fudge & lack of clarity, allied to constant change over the last 16+ years, has hindered the ability of probation staff to communicate effectively with each other, let alone anyone else. TR has only served to confabulate, confuse & conceal the reality of NOMS' responsibility for fucking probation over, and over, and over, and over.
I can't wait for that unredacted report to hit the shelves.