Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Naomi Bryant inquest jury considers 'state failings'

Naomi Bryant
Image caption Naomi Bryant was stabbed 16 times after meeting Rice in a pub

A jury has been sent out to consider whether authority failings contributed to the murder of a woman stabbed to death by a convicted sex attacker.

Naomi Bryant, 40, of Winchester, was killed by Anthony Rice in 2005 while he was on licence from prison.

Rice, 54, was jailed for life after admitting murder and has previous convictions for sex assaults.

Ms Bryant's mother, Verna Bryant, 72, has fought for years to be granted an inquest into her daughter's death.

Hearings do not normally take place after criminal proceedings.

Coroner Grahame Short told the inquest jury at Winchester Crown Court it would have to consider if "failings of the state contributed to Naomi's death".

But he said that the question of whether the rapist should have been released from prison in the first place would not be part of the proceedings.

'Brutal murder'

Mr Short explained that the hearing was not an inquiry into the penal system and Rice's release was too wide an area to address.

Describing Ms Bryant's death as a "brutal murder", he said the aim of the hearing would be to establish what lessons could be learned.

Image caption Rice will not be giving evidence to the inquest

At the time of the killing Rice was under the supervision of multi-agency public protection arrangements, Mappa - a government framework designed to manage violent offenders in England and Wales.

Rice had a long history of rape and sexual assault, including a serious sexual assault against a five-year-old girl in 1975 and the rape of a woman in 1982.

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

Nine months later he killed multiple sclerosis sufferer Ms Bryant after meeting her in a pub.

He told police he decided to kill her because she stopped holding his hand as they walked to her house and this made him angry.

She was strangled with a pair of tights and stabbed 16 times.

Mrs Bryant's mother has been backed by civil rights organisation Liberty.

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