Lisa Skidmore murder: Minister makes apology as sex attacker review launched
'This was an appalling crime and I have personally apologised'
The Minister for Justice Rory Stewart has said sorry to the family of murdered Lisa Skidmore.
The 37-year-old was raped and strangled in her Bilston home by sex offender Leroy Campbell, released from prison four months before the attack.
The first public apology from a Government minister comes as a fresh investigation is launched into the National Probation Service's handling of Campbell, a paranoid schizophrenic.
Only six weeks before the attack, Campbell, 57, had warned a probation officer that feelings he had experienced before previous sex attacks had returned.
Dame Glenys Stacey, chief inspector at HMI Probation, is to report back on the findings of the probe to the family of Ms Skidmore next month.
The family met the minister Mr Stewart at Portcullis House in London at two meetings, on March 20 and June 18.
The first meeting involved Ms Skidmore's mother Margaret, also attacked by Campbell during the horrific incident in November 2016.
Also there were Ms Skidmore's sisters Alison Parker, Joyce Skidmore and Irene Cheshire. Brother Jim Skidmore was also in attendance.
A second meeting involving just Mrs Parker and Mr Skidmore, and Mr Stewart, took place on June 18.
Today, Mrs Parker, aged 58, said: "The first thing that happened was Mr Stewart apologising for what had happened.
"Then we sat down and discussed our concerns.
"We say he (Campbell) should never have been released from prison.
"And when he was we think he was never followed up probably and got away without doing things he was required to do.
"He slipped through the net.
"Even when there was a warning, sufficient action was not taken to protect the public."
The family say probation reforms in 2014 may have contributed toward failings in the case.
It saw 35 probation trusts across the country disbanded, replaced with community rehabilitation companies run by companies, voluntary groups and charities.
Mrs Parker said: "We think there are others who have slipped through the gate because the agencies have got too much to do and nothing enough resources to check on every offender."
Following the meetings, Mr Stewart wrote to the family and said a review was being carried out into the National Probation Service.
He also released a public statement.
It said: “This was an appalling crime and I have personally apologised to Lisa’s family for the failings. I understood their frustration that Campbell had been released.
“It’s important we learn lessons and the probation service has put in place stricter instructions for managing dangerous offenders to prevent tragedies happening again.”
Wolverhampton East MP Pat McFadden was at the latest meeting between the family and Mr Stewart.
He asked for assurances the case could not be repeated.
He said: “The failings in this case were catastrophic.
"A young woman lost her life and her mother was almost murdered too.
"It is absolutely vital that the review commissioned by the Minister for Justice looks at why the warnings issued by Campbell about his own intentions were not acted on, who took those decisions and what will happen now to avoid a repeat of this horrendous case.”
Campbell used a ladder to get into the home of Ms Skidmore. Once inside he brutally raped and killed the Bilston Health Centre nurse.
Hours later, when Margaret Skidmore turned up at the house to find Campbell, he punched her in the head several times before wrapping a vacuum cleaner cord around her neck. She passed out.
Campbell had been watching Ms Skidmore for weeks.
He warned a probation officer he was experiencing feelings similar to those he had before previous sex attacks.
But when the officer reported this to Wolverhampton Police, officers only visited him several times until he said he no longer needed their help.
Campbell was jailed for life last year.
The extent of his previous attacks on women were revealed at the sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court.
In 1983 he had broken into the home of a nurse and tried to strangle her with the intention of raping or sexually assaulting her.
In 1992, he was jailed after another raping a woman.
And eight years later he indecently assaulted at knifepoint an au pair at a house in Wolverhampton.
He was released from prison on July 25, 2016 and lived in Bilston before moving to a hostel in Moseley, Birmingham.
As well as a review into the National Probation Service, the Black Country coroner Zafar Siddique has signalled an inquest will take place into Mrs Skidmore's death.