Bryant inquest reopens

28 January 2011

The inquest into the death of Naomi Bryant – murdered in 2005 by convicted sex offender Anthony Rice – will begin Monday 31 January, after being abandoned in March 2010 when new information about public authorities’ knowledge of her killer was revealed.

Liberty is acting on behalf of Naomi’s mother, Verna Bryant, who is seeking to find out whether public authority handling of Rice’s release from prison and supervision on licence contributed to her daughter’s death. Following Rice’s admission of murder the Coroner decided not to hold an inquest into Naomi’s death but Liberty was able to request one using Article 2, the right to life, of the Human Rights Act. Mrs Bryant hopes that lessons will be learned and that similar tragedies in the future can be avoided.

Naomi’s murder followed what appears to have been a catalogue of mistakes in the handling of Rice’s release on licence from prison. At the beginning of the inquest last year, it was revealed that information about Rice’s sexual offending against children, which was believed to have been unavailable to the authorities prior to his release, had in fact been known to authorities in Bradford, the police and prison authorities. The Bradford agencies had refused to accept Rice's release into their area. It would seem that crucial information about Rice was not shared within and between the various agencies involved in his release and supervision.

Emma Norton, legal officer for Liberty and representing Verna Bryant said:

“Verna Bryant has waited another painful year to discover the truth about her daughter’s death, and we hope that all relevant information has now been disclosed.

The Bryant’s loss was all the more tragic because Naomi’s death might have been prevented had government bodies shared details about her murderer’s extremely dangerous character and previous offences. Only by using the Human Rights Act can we seek to change the system and seek justice for the family.”

Contact: Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831 128

 NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Anthony Rice had a record of previous sexual offences against females, including a very serious assault on a five-year-old girl. He was released from prison in November 2004 having served almost 16 years of a life sentence for a violent attempted rape. He had previously served a seven-year sentence in the early 1980s for rape and threats to kill, and had multiple convictions for indecent assaults going back to 1972.
  2. The inquest will be held at Winchester Crown Court