Tyne & Wear

Lee Irving murder: Risks known years before death

Lee Irving
Image caption Lee Irving, who had learning disabilities, was killed in Newcastle in June 2015

The risks to a vulnerable man who was tortured and murdered were known three years before his death, a report says.

Lee Irving, 24, who had learning disabilities, was killed by people he thought were his friends in Newcastle in 2015.

While the review said it was unclear if Mr Irving's death could have been prevented, it said public bodies struggled with his "chaotic lifestyle".

Four people were jailed over his murder in December 2016.

Mr Irving was found dead near a footpath in June 2015. He had suffered multiple injuries, including 27 rib fractures.

A Safeguarding Adults Review revealed that since the age of four, 14 agencies had been involved with Mr Irving, who had an IQ of 56 and a history of offending.

'Willing to be bullied'

Report author Tom Wood said public bodies, including Newcastle City Council, the probation service and Northumbria Police, struggled with Mr Irving's "chaotic lifestyle" and that he only attended about 50% of appointments.

In 2001, the National Probation Service (NPS) assessed Mr Irving as being "incredibly vulnerable to the influence of others" and was willing to be bullied rather than be "rejected by his peers".

The report said: "With the knowledge we have about the death of Lee Irving the pinpoint accuracy of the NPS assessments makes it clear that Lee's problems and vulnerability were known to the fullest extent three years before his death.

"It is, however, notable that even following the NPS assessment no alarm was raised or safeguarding alert instigated by the NPS."

The review highlighted failures of agencies to share information, a reluctance to challenge Mr Irving's lifestyle and a failure to involve his family in decisions about his future.

Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Four people were jailed over Mr Irving's murder. Clockwise from top left: James Wheatley, Julie Mills, Nicole Lawrence, Barry Imray

Mr Wood concluded: "Many individuals and agencies tried hard to engage with Lee Irving. He was difficult to help and while lacking the capacity to make some decisions in his own interest he seemed determined to exercise his own autonomy which sometimes placed him at risk.

"Whether any of these changes would have saved the life of Lee Irving will never be known."

'Acted inhumanely'

Ewen Weir, director of people at Newcastle City Council, said: "While all agencies tried to engage with Lee, there was insufficient challenge and support among partners.

"I know that Lee's family felt excluded from some of the decisions that were taken about his care and that their warnings about his living conditions were not acted upon effectively. For that we are truly sorry."

Chair of the Newcastle Safeguarding Board, Vida Morris, said: "Lee was a vulnerable adult whose death was an evil act carried out by people who acted inhumanely.

"Although his case was not legally a disability hate crime, it is our opinion that it is still appropriate to view his death as connected or motivated by his disability."

A spokesperson for NPS said: "This is a tragic case and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Lee Irving.

"We will carefully consider the findings of this review to identify any lessons that can be learnt."

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