Lisa Skidmore: Coroner delays inquest into nurse's murder
An inquest into the brutal rape and murder of a district nurse has been postponed in order for a 'thorough and fearless' investigation to take place, a coroner has ruled.
A full inquiry into the death of 37-year-old Lisa Skidmore, who was strangled in her Bilston home by Leroy Campbell after he climbed through her bedroom window, was provisionally due to start in November.
But failures by the prison service, parole board and West Midlands Police to disclose crucial information to the coroner and the Skidmore family's lawyers has led to 'frustrating' delays.
At a preliminary review held at Oldbury today, Black Country coroner Zafar Siddique said that realistically the inquest would not now take place until the New Year.
Speaking at the hearing, 81-year-old Mrs Margaret Skidmore, Lisa's mother, said she felt the family's rights were being overlooked.
Asking for her patience, Mr Siddique said: "It's been a very long journey for you and the family but these things cannot be rushed, and I do need to have sight of all the relevant documentation. There needs to be a thorough and fearless inquiry."
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The news follows Wednesday's damning report into 'appalling mistakes' by the probation service in the case, particularly the failure to recall Campbell after he spoke of wanting to rape again. Sonia Crozier, head of the probation service, said she was 'deeply ashamed'.
Pre-inquest hearings have been called to decide on the scope of the investigation which the family initially requested should include Campbell's management in jail and the parole board’s decision in 2014 to move him to an open prison and in 2016 to release him.
Failures by the police and the probation service will be fully explored by the inquest but the parole board and prison service both argue they should not form part of the coroner's inquiry.
Bilal Rawat, representing the Ministry of Justice, said that the inquest should cover only what was known about Leroy Campbell on the day of his release and how he was subsequently managed in the community.
Kirsten Heaven, barrister for the Skidmore family, complained that they had not received any documents relating to the decision to release the killer from prison service or the parole board. She said the family were reserving their position on the inquiry's scope until that information was disclosed.
The coroner quizzed West Midlands Police about its failure to provide him with a report on its own internal investigation into the case and also statements from senior officers. He allowed a further two weeks for their submission.
Mr Siddique also asked for documentation covering a failure by MAPPA, a multi-agency body including police, probation and prison service, to carry out an assessment of Campbell six months before his release.
It was on November 24, 2016, four months after his release from a 16-year ‘public protection’ prison term, that Campbell used a step ladder to climb through his victim’s first-floor bedroom window in Mill Croft, while she was off work sick, and raped and strangled her.
When her mother called at the house two hours later, he tried to strangle her with the vacuum cleaner lead before setting fire to the house.
Campbell's legal representatives did not attend the hearing although they had notified the coroner they would be present.
A third preliminary hearing has set for November 19.
Afterwards Jim Skidmore, Lisa's brother, said: "These delays are frustrating but the last thing we want is for anything to be missed. If getting justice for Lisa means we have to wait a while longer, then that's what we will do."