December 12 2013 Latest news:
by Alex Wellman
Monday, October 21, 2013
The family of a pregnant Islington woman killed by her boyfriend have called for a raft of changes to the justice system after facing the “yearly hell” of his attempts to have his sentence reviewed.
Sisters and brothers of Abiodun Ilukoma have demanded people convicted of serious crimes and held under the Mental Health Act are not allowed to have their detention reviewed every year.
They have further called for a minimum tariff that people must serve before their sentence is reviewed saying the current system worked against the families of victims.
Yemi Ilukoma, Abi’s sister, said: “I can’t understand why there is not a minimum requirement such as 10 years that a person must serve before they are reviewed.
“At the moment, everything seems to be for the benefit of the person who committed the crime. We are suffering while killers get the hope of release.”
They spoke out after their sister’s killer launched his latest attempt – one which has since been cancelled following outcry from the family.
Ben Anabah, who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Abiodun in 2009, was due to have his detention reviewed in September but this has since been scrapped after the fallout from his escorted leave – which has also been cancelled.
The killer was first allowed to have his indefinite sentence reviewed just six months after he was convicted.
The decision left the family furious and shocked after they claimed they were never warned this would happen.
Yemi Ilukoma, Abi’s sister, told the Gazette the family agreed to accept a plea of manslaughter instead of pushing for murder as they were worried about the affect a lengthy court case may have on them.
She said: “We were very badly advised and no-one ever told us that he will be able to have his sentence reviewed every year.
“Whenever it comes around it just drags it all up again and makes it so hard. It becomes like it just happened the other day.”
Known for her bubbly character, Abi was the youngest of three sisters and two brothers – all of who were born and brought up in Islington.
A former pupil at Highbury Fields, she was just a few months away from becoming a mother when she was killed by her partner in June 2008.
Police were called to the house in Essex Road after frantic neighbours said they heard screams and discovered Anabah with blood on his hands and mother-to-be Abi critically ill in the kitchen.
Abi was rushed to the Royal London Hospital but sadly passed away and despite attempts to save her baby, including an emergency caesarean, the child also died.
Gbenga Ilumoka, Abi’s brother, said: “We were all there and my poor mother was wailing on the floor, crying uncontrollably when we were told Abi had died.
“When we saw her we were warned to prepare ourselves for a shock. The staff had cleaned her up and tried to place clothing and bandages over her injuries.”
The family have been to the House of Commons as part of their campaign and have met with other families who have suffered in the same way as them.
“The decision to allow escorted leave is made in consultation with doctors and is always subject to a thorough risk assessment.
“This includes checking the patient’s offending history, medical progress, chances of absconding and risk to victims and the public. Such decisions are kept under review.”
Islington South & Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry, who is also the shadow Attorney General, said: “In my view there should always be a tariff before a violent offender is considered for release – reflecting the severity of the crime.
“We were in the middle of fighting to stop the early release when I heard Mr Anabah had been allowed escorted leave. Apparently he has been out under escort on a weekly basis – without the knowledge of the victim’s family. How can this be right?
“Victims of crime rely on the courts to provide justice and protect the public. In the tragic case of Christina Edkins, who was killed on a bus, her family were told that her killer would be confined indefinitely under the Mental Health Act, but will he be permitted to apply for release next year? Could he be offered escorted leave like Mr Abanah was?
“Grieving families deserve some certainty when killers of their loved ones are sentenced. Other families should not suffer as Abi’s family have.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman refused to speak about individual cases but told the Gazette: “Under the Mental Health Act, restricted patients regularly have their detention reviewed to ensure they still need treatment in hospital and are not detained for longer than necessary.