These two blokes were freed because of endemic cock-ups. Sonnex was supposed to be in prison. Probation didn't recall him to prison. He'd been arrested and charged for other matters, and the fax from probation to the cells wasn't sent. The document that deals with recall on licence is a single side of A4, signed on behalf of the Home Secretary, informing the person named that they are being recalled to prison for "unacceptable behaviour" whilst out on licence.
Sonnex got technical bail on the new offences, because the court was told he'd been recalled on licence. He went back down to the cells, who declined to detain him because the certificate of recall had not come through (and quite rightly so). He was released.
By the time the Met got around to conducting arrest enquiries, two weeks later, they arrived at Sonnex's address a few hours after the murders. Sonnex, I am given to understand, is a well-known local villain, and has a certain pedigree in the courts.
Discussing this horrendous affair with a French judge shortly after the news broke, I said that if I were advising the families, I'd be advising them to issue civil proceedings.
Lo, and behold, proceedings have been issued, seeking compensation from the probation service and the police.
I shall make myself perfectly clear -- I feel a large amount of sympathy for the individuals in the probation service concerned. Those in the probation service are horrendously overworked, understaffed and underfunded. The Met is also stretched. The issue of where the blame lies is extremely complex, and may have to be thrashed out in the courts. Actually, I'd put money on a settlement to avoid embarrassment.
In the comments of the Times Online article linked above, there is the following comment:
Symon Allen wrote:
If you have overcrowded prisons then screw the EU policy on the death penalty and start culling the murderes/rapists/paedophiles/insane. We don't want them back in society and we don't want to pay for their upkeep with our taxes. Get rid of them NOW. [Sic]
Symon Allen, you are a very dangerous person, and your views are repellent. I appreciate that the internet tends to provide a home to the fringes of society, but suggesting that we "cull" people with mental illnesses to make space is beyond the pale. I am lost for words.