Woman tells of ‘extreme anger’ at authorities over lack of protection for murdered sibling
A woman whose sister was the third victim of a man who killed his partners said she is “extremely angry” that her sibling was not protected, an inquest heard.
Theodore Johnson murdered 51-year-old Angela Best at his north London home on December 15 2016 after she ended their 20-year relationship and met another man.
He beat her with a claw hammer and strangled her with a dressing gown cord after she went to his flat to help him with a passport application.
Johnson had two previous manslaughter convictions after killing his wife in 1981 and another former partner in 1992.
In a statement read out by coroner Mary Hassell at St Pancras Coroner’s Court, Ms Best’s sister Lorraine Jones (pictured, right with her sister Valerie Archibold) said: “I feel extremely angry because my sister was not protected.”
She said there were missed opportunities, a “severe lack of professional curiosity” and a “lack of supervision and accountability”.
In September 1994, Johnson was allowed out of a psychiatric unit for the first time on escorted community parole.
In mid-1995, he was given unescorted leave to spend two days a week at a City and Guilds course on furniture restoration.
It was there in 1996 that he met Ms Best, who had moved to Tottenham, north London, from Manchester.
He was let out by a mental health tribunal in October 1997 on condition he tell supervising doctors and social workers if he formed any new relationships, which he repeatedly failed to do, even though he had already been seeing Ms Best for a year.
The mother-of-four and grandmother only found out he had killed before when she came across letters at his home and confronted him.
Ms Jones said in her statement to the inquest: “We feel it’s simply not good enough to have relied repeatedly on TJ’s (Johnson) self-reporting.”
She said there was an “absence of planning” by authorities, adding: “The guidelines were clear. There should be unannounced visits.”
She said regular unannounced visits did not take place.
“I feel that Angela had no chance and no choice,” Ms Jones said, adding that Johnson “pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes”.
She added: “I feel that TJ had more rights than Angela or her family who have lost her.”
In her statement, Ms Jones referred to a number of “missed” opportunities.
The inquest heard from Margaret Cross, who was a social worker and Johnson’s social supervisor at Camden and Islington NHS Trust from 2011.
She told the coroner there had been one unannounced visit to Johnson’s home in five years and staff were reliant on him self-reporting.
Ms Cross said they provided a nine to five service so monitoring Johnson on evenings and weekends was not possible.
The coroner said: “Did this not strike you as a wholly unsatisfactory state of affairs?”
Ms Cross replied: “Yes, in retrospect it does.”
The coroner asked Ms Cross if the monitoring function of the service was “fit for purpose” if she did not have the ability to discover whether Johnson was having a relationship unless he told her, and she said: “No.”
She said she was not told by any of Johnson’s clinical supervisors that he was being prescribed a drug related to sexual performance.
Ms Cross added that Johnson would have been invited in to be questioned had it been known and that staff would have been suspicious.
The coroner asked her if Johnson had ever disclosed or hinted at being in a relationship while he was in her care and she said he had not.
Ms Cross said the conditions Johnson had to stick to included attending appointments with clinical and social supervisors.
He also had to inform his care team about any relationships with women, not contact any family members of his victims and reside at his address.
In 2018, Johnson was jailed for life at the Old Bailey and ordered to serve at least 26 years for Ms Best’s murder.
But three senior judges later ruled that the sentence was “unduly lenient” and increased his tariff to 30 years following an application by Solicitor General Robert Buckland.
The inquest, being attended virtually by counsel and family members, continues.
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