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Police apology over blunders in Lisa Skidmore death too late, say family

By Richard Guttridge | Bilston | Crime | Published:

The murder of Lisa Skidmore was one of the most shocking examples of police and probation failure in recent times.

Lisa Skidmore's brother and sister Jim Skidmore and Alison Parker

Usually detectives arrive at the scene of a murder with no idea who the killer is.

In this case, the murderer had effectively warned his handlers what he was about to do.

West Midlands Police chiefs will hope their public apology to Miss Skidmore's family will allow them to draw a line under one of the most shameful and unedifying episodes in its history.

Convicted rapist Leroy Campbell was not recalled to prison despite confiding in offender managers he was thinking of raping again and was "seeing open windows".

Lisa Skidmore

It paints a chilling picture in hindsight.

Potentially anyone could have been his victim.

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But it was Miss Skidmore's home in Mill Croft, Bilston, where Campbell chose to climb through that window, raping and strangling the 37-year-old nurse and almost killing her mother Margaret as he wrapped a vacuum cord around her neck.

The 80-year-old is said to have been irreversibly changed by the horrific events of that day in November 2016.

Shocking examples communication lapses would later emerge, such as Campbell's probation officer not being told of his dark thoughts on returning from holiday, meaning they were not taken into account in a subsequent risk assessment.

The police force and probation service has undergone a long period of reflection and scrutiny over the blunders that allowed Campbell, who had similar offences on his rap sheet, to kill and are seeking to assure the public they have learned lessons.

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Speaking after the public meeting at West Midlands Police's Lloyd House headquarters in Birmingham where the apology was delivered by Chief Constable Dave Thompson, Miss Skidmore's brother and sister Jim Skidmore and Alison Parker said it had come too late.

Asked whether the apology would bring any comfort, Mrs Parker, 59, from Finchfield, said: "None at all. And when we go back and tell my mum everything, she'll probably say the same."

Killer Leroy Campbell was given a whole life term

Mr Skidmore, 60, from Wombourne, said: "It shouldn't have happened and the sad part, if people would have done their job my sister would still be here. How do you put a value on a life that's been lost through people's mistakes?

"We understand people will sympathise with us or whatever but unfortunately they're not in our position. We respect and thank people for doing that. We just want people to do their jobs so it doesn't happen again.

"The communication with Campbell - the police and the probation service were taking his word of where he was. How many offenders didn't they check up on, serious offenders?"

The apology yesterday came after the publication of several reports into the case and an inquest, all of which has taken its toll on Miss Skidmore's family.

Mr Skidmore said: "We've been to London twice and met MPs. Every time we've got to prepare for what we've got to go and do, have it thrown in our faces again, relive it. It's three years. We just want to get over it as a family and grieve for our sister. It affects my mum, I just want to move on.

"She's not the person she was. You used to look in her eyes and see a sparkle. When my sister died that sparkle went."

Mrs Parker added: "You can't move forward because it's there in your face all the time. We've got civil claims going on at the moment and they're asking us to put a quote on somebody's life. How can you do that?"

Despite the incredible failings of police and the probation service, Mr Skidmore said he has not lost faith in the system.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson apologised to the family

He said: "It isn't about getting people sacked. It's about people being held accountable if they've done something wrong, learn from it and move on.

"I like to think the police are there to help us and we're in the unfortunate situation that when something happens it will happen to someone, some family. Unfortunately it's our family this has happened to and I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

"The police do a tremendous job keeping us safe. Whether they haven't got enough police, for whatever reason they didn't do their job on my sister's case.

"You can't just say the police are no good. The police do a great job. They keep us safe 99 per cent of the time."

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "This was a truly awful case, and my thoughts go out to Lisa’s family. Lisa and her mother were subjected to the most hideous crime.

"Several agencies were at fault and have questions to answers, but it is right that West Midlands Police are apologising for their failings.

"It is equally important that West Midlands Police learn lessons from this awful case and improve to stop something like this happening in future."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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