Murdered PC need not have died

17 November 2010, 11:26 | Updated: 17 November 2010, 12:36

A brave PC who was murdered by a crazed knifeman need not have died if his killer had been properly supervised, a report found today (Wednesday November 17th).

PC Jon Henry, 36, was stabbed to death when he answered a 999 call to Luton town centre to deal with Tennyson Obih who had attacked a window cleaner.

The paranoid schizophrenic, now 31, had not taken his medication for 6 months and was plagued by voices, hallucinations and delusions.

At the end of his trial at Luton Crown Court, Obih's barrister Bernard Richmond QC said it was plain that Obih, who had spent two years in a psychiatric unit, had clearly gone off the radar of those responsible for his care. He was jailed for 25 years.

Today an independent report into the care of Obih was published by Verita - who had been instructed by the East of England NHS to carry out an investigation.

It found that nothing had been done when it was discovered that Obih had not taken his medication and that the level of care he received at that time meant he was not being properly monitored by the Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Social Care Partnership. A cost cutting decision to close an early intervention service was also blamed.

Lucy Scott-Moncrieff of Verita said: " We identified a series of management and clinical failings starting from the decision to close the early intervention service. The cumulative effect of these failings was that at the time of the incident Mr Obih's illness was untreated and his well-being was effectively unmonitored.

"We find therefore that the incident might not have occurred if he had been suitably treated and might therefore have been prevented. We found no evidence that Mr Obih's violence could have been predicted."

The report concluded: "The level of support Mr Obih received from the community mental health care team coordinator was considerably less than he had received from the early intervention care coordinator. For example, in the two months before transfer he had 36 contacts with the early intervention team, compared with the community team in the four months after transfer.

"Fairly quickly after transfer there were signs of disengagement. Mr Obih stopped attending the day care service that he had previously enjoyed, and in December 2006 he was admitted to a general hospital to treat his diabetes where it was established that he had stopped taking his insulin and his oral antipsychotic medication.

"Up until this point he had been compliant with his fortnightly depot injection, administration by the community team care co-ordinator.

"However when Mr Obih returned from holiday in January 2007 he refused to accept his depot injection or take his oral antipsychotic medications.

"Between January and June 2007 he took no medication for his mental illness and met his care co-ordinator only four times. The care coordinator told his community mental health team colleagues that Mr Obih was not taking his medication,  but a professionals meeting or case review was not held to assess what impact this was having on his mental state."

During his trial the jury was told Nigerian-born Obih believed he had special powers, could predict the future and could point at something to make it vibrate until it exploded.  He thought he was The Chosen One and had distrust for the police who he thought were involved in his mother's death.

He had spent two spells in a psychiatric unit, but it was felt that it was safe for him to return to the community.

When he stopped taking his medication he became increasingly delusional believing he was being pursued by women who wanted him as their lover because of his special powers. He was convinced he was in contact with aliens and had been taken to another planet.

At 7am on June 11 2007 he armed himself with a large knife and went to Luton town centre. After stabbing window cleaner Steven Chamberlain in the back and puncturing his lung he attacked PC Henry who was the first officer on the scene. He stabbed him twice in his upper chest.

During his trial the jury heard that other officers fired CS spray three times into Obih's face with no effect. He had also been hit over the head with a window cleaner's pole and when a police officer fired a baton round at him, he barely flinched.

It was only after a taser was fired for a second time that he fell to the ground and was overpowered.

Pc Henry's widow Mary was shown the report before it was published. She has said she has no comment to make and wants to get on bringing up their four year old daughter Maggie.

After Obih's convictions she said: "Maggie has been robbed of her father and will grow up with only stories and photographs of him. In a world that can be a scary place for a child anyway she will have to live with the first hand effects of what evil people can take from you."

The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Gillian Parker, said: "Bedfordshire Police is aware of this report and our main priority at this time is to support Jon's family, his friends and his colleagues and the other victims of Tennyson Obih.

"Jon, on June 11 2007, like any other day, was responding to a call for help from a member of the public.  At the time of his death he acted with heroism and dedication in serving the communities of Bedfordshire and he paid the ultimate price.

"I was and remain proud of Jon and also of his friends and colleagues who were with him at the time of his death.

"I am also very proud of all members of Bedfordshire Police who were affected by that day's events but they all pulled together - putting their own emotions to one side to ensure the people of Bedfordshire continued to receive an excellent and professional service."