Benfleet deaths: Police downgraded risk of mum-in-law killer

Jennifer Cronin Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Jennifer Cronin was set on fire by Kieren Lynch at her home in Benfleet

Police downgraded the risk assessment of a man who went on to set fire to his mother-in-law from "high" to "medium" on the morning of the deadly attack, an inquest heard.

Kieren Lynch, 50, set alight 72-year-old Jennifer Cronin in her garden in Benfleet, Essex, on 13 March 2018.

He then doused himself in petrol and set fire to himself, dying later the same day, Essex Coroner's Court heard.

Mrs Cronin died just over two weeks after the attack in Boyce Green.

The inquest, which is investigating both deaths. has heard her daughter Susan Lynch had been planning to divorce her husband after 25 years of marriage due to his cocaine addiction.

Mr Lynch had been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage on 11 January 2018 and was given bail conditions not to contact his family or attend the address where the couple's two teenage daughters lived.

But despite Mrs Lynch reporting multiple incidents between 7 March and 12 March, he was not arrested.

Image caption Kieren Lynch was seen running into the garden carrying a knife and petrol can, an inquest heard

PC Karis Ackerman, who responded to a complaint on 12 March, told the inquest she had carried out a domestic abuse risk assessment and judged Mr Lynch, who had made threats to kill his wife and harm his elder daughter, to be "high risk".

But assistant coroner Tina Harrington told the court this had been reviewed and downgraded the following day, hours before the fire attack.

The inquest was also told no firearms search was conducted at the home of Mr Lynch's parents, where he was living, until 12 March. This was two months after his initial arrest - police domestic abuse policy requires a search to be carried out as soon as possible.

The inquest continues.

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