Inquest Into Hamsphire Woman's Murder

An inquest into the death of a woman murdered six years ago by a sex attacker on licence from prison is due to start today (Monday 31st January).

A previous hearing into the death of Naomi Bryant was abandoned last year when new evidence about her killer Anthony Rice came to light.

The 54-year-old is serving a life sentence after admitting he strangled and stabbed to death mother-of-one Ms Bryant, 40, in Winchester, Hampshire, in 2005.

The inquest at Winchester Crown Court will look at the issues surrounding the murder, including the role of the probation service.

A highly critical report into the case published in 2006 found that Rice was freed because officials placed his human rights above protecting the public. The report found he was 'too dangerous' to release, despite officials deciding he was a 'minimal risk'.

At the time of the murder, Rice was under the supervision of Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements, Mappa - a government framework designed to manage violent offenders in England and Wales.

Ms Bryant's mother, Verna Bryant, 72, has fought for several years to be granted an inquest into her daughter's death because hearings do not normally take place after criminal proceedings.

She has been backed by civil rights organisation Liberty.

Rice had a long history of sexual offences against women, including a serious sexual assault against a five-year-old girl in 1975.

He was jailed at the Old Bailey in 1989 for attempted rape but released from prison in November 2004 and went to live at Elderfield probation hostel in Otterbourne, near Winchester.

Nine months later, he killed the multiple sclerosis sufferer and alcoholic at her home after meeting her in a pub a few days before.

She was found by her then 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, and her ex-boyfriend naked under a duvet in her bedroom. She had been strangled with a pair of tights and stabbed 16 times.

Central Hampshire coroner Grahame Short is overseeing the jury inquest, which is expected to last four weeks.


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