'Missed opportunities' to act before former rough sleeper was murdered in Northampton, review finds

The report found: "...to put a kind gentle man with a drink problem in a house with a violent drug addict was an unwise decision".

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 5:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 5:14 pm
A safeguarding report has been released after a former rough sleeper was murdered in Northampton by his violent housemate.
A safeguarding report has been released after a former rough sleeper was murdered in Northampton by his violent housemate.

A former rough sleeper who was murdered by his violent housemate in Northampton was let down by agencies not working together to think about his welfare, a report has found.

The 42-year-old father - who was referred to in the report as 'Dean' - was found dead at a supported living property in 2018 after the man who stabbed him to death turned himself in.

Now, a safeguarding review into the months leading up to his death has concluded the agencies responsible for Dean's welfare had "a lack of professional curiosity" and a bad habit of looking at the warning signs in isolation.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Tragically, Dean was set to move out of the accommodation the very next day after his complaints about how "unbearable" living with the perpetrator had become were taken on board by the housing provider, the Richmond Fellowship charity. He was murdered that evening.

The fatal stabbing in June 2018 came after Dean was moved into the perpetrator's supported living accommodation in late 2017 after a period sleeping rough in Northampton.

The report reads: "The author spoke at length to Dean’s wife and sister... both women made similar comments in that they felt the housing provider had let Dean down by not considering how different both men were.

"Dean’s sister is of the view that to put a kind gentle man with a drink problem in a house with a violent drug addict was an unwise decision."

The report details how the perpetrator's violent criminal history included arson with intent to endanger life, domestic abuse and a 10-year prison sentence for attacking his wife with a knife.

He had also been spared prison in the three months before the murder when he was handed a suspended sentence for assault and possessing a knife.

The report reads: "There were a number of complaints from the perpetrator and a number of warning signs that the relationship between [Dean and himself] was deteriorating.

"A short time before his death, Dean had confided in the street drinkers he associated with, that he was scared of his housemate and that the perpetrator had threatened him with a knife.

"Matters came to a head in June 2018, and Dean complained to staff at the supported housing provider that the perpetrator’s behaviour towards him was unbearable and he wanted to move to different accommodation. Arrangements were made to move him the following day, which Dean was happy about.

"That same evening, the perpetrator went into Dean’s room and stabbed Dean to death while he was sleeping in his bed."

The report ruled that there were "missed opportunities" by the supported living housing provider, operated by the Richmond Fellowship Charity, and Northamptonshire's public protection agencies.

The report reads: "[Richmond] appeared to consider the perpetrator a risk only when involved in 'domestic' incidents, but in reality he was a dangerous man and anyone was at risk of his violent behaviour.

"There is no evidence that a risk assessment was completed for [either men]. There were missed opportunities to re-assess the risk to both Dean and the perpetrator."

The report concluded that Richmond and agencies had set out action reports and recommended how they could work closer with the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Adults Board.

A spokesperson for The Richmond Fellowship, a mental health charity that provides supported living and employment support, said in a statement:

"We welcome the recommendations of The Northampton Adult Safeguarding Board following the death of 'Dean' in our Northampton service. We’ve taken on board and have been implementing the recommendations of the report, which ensures new residents have an even more thorough risk assessment before being housed in the service, working with our service delivery partners and referrers. In August 2019 we also undertook a stringent management review and restructure across our whole organisation which ensures our processes and senior staff are further operationally centred."