South East Wales

Argoed inquest: Matthew Williams' dad tried to house him in new area

Matthew Williams and Cerys Marie Yemm Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Matthew Williams killed Cerys Yemm while being housed at the Sirhowy Arms

The father of a prison-leaver who killed a woman in a hostel has told an inquest he had been trying to find his son housing in a new area to "break the cycle" of his offending.

Matthew Williams died after being Tasered by police after killing Carys Yemm at the Sirhowy Arms in Argoed.

Christopher Williams told the joint inquest into the deaths his son had wanted to start a new life.

Williams, 34, had been found attacking Miss Yemm, 22, on 6 November 2014.

The owner of the Caerphilly county hostel had called Gwent Police, whose officers stunned Williams with a Taser. He later died.

Christopher Williams told the inquest at Newport Coroner's Court he had tried to find accommodation for his son on his release from prison.

He wanted him to live in Newport rather than Blackwood and had attempted to arrange this when he was released on licence in 2013 and again when he was released in October 2014, two weeks before the deaths.

"I said that over the years, when he goes to Blackwood, he ends up in prison sooner rather than later," Mr Williams said.

Image caption Matthew Williams was given accommodation at the Sirhowy Arms

"I said he should live in Newport to try and break that cycle. He wanted that too. He had wanted to start a new life.

"He had done painting and decorating in prison. He wanted to set up a business and I'd have helped with that. I'd have got a van. He had done some work for me. I was born and bred in Newport and only left it for three months."

Christopher Williams told the inquest he called the housing department in Newport about a week before his son's release to find out if they would be able to provide him with accommodation. He told the jury that he was told he would need to demonstrate his own proof of residency in Newport for two years.

When he turned up at the housing office with his son on 23 October 2014, he said he was told that he needed five years proof of residency, which he was unable to provide on that day.

Instead, Caerphilly council accommodated Matthew Williams at the Sirhowy Arms, which Christopher Williams said he understood to be a temporary arrangement.

Duty to house prison-leavers

He said he returned to the housing office with proof of five years residency and did not hear anything further from them.

Sue Cousins, a housing officer with Caerphilly council, told the jury that, at the time of the deaths in 2014, a prison-leaver was "determined to be a priority" and councils had a duty to house them.

But that had now changed and they no longer had an automatic right to be housed, unless they were considered vulnerable.

She also told the inquest, since the deaths, more information about the background of offenders is shared with the owners of B&Bs when they are placed with them.

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