Editor’s comment: Double killer should never have been free

Angela Best was murdered by Theodore Johnson in December 2016. Picture: MET POLICE

Angela Best was murdered by Theodore Johnson in December 2016. Picture: MET POLICE - Credit: Archant

Clare Wood was strangled and set on fire by her abusive ex-partner George Appleton in Salford nine years ago.

She had known nothing about his previous convictions for violence against women. Ms Wood’s father believes she would still be alive if she had.

His campaign, in her name, led to a change in the law. Women can now get information from police about whether their partner has a history of domestic abuse or other forms of violence.

Clare’s law, introduced in 2014, was meant to make heartbreaking cases like those of Angela Best a thing of the past. But perhaps it came too late for Ms Best: she met double killer Theodore Johnson in the mid-1990s, just a few years after his second release from prison.

Abusers alone are to blame for their actions. It was Johnson, not the Home Office, who killed a woman he claimed to care for.

But the police and the government share responsibility for helping end violence against women – through how they identify, punish and rehabilitate perpetrators, and how they support survivors.

It’s easy to say now, but clearly Johnson was not safe to release from prison. And not enough was done to keep a tab on him and make the people around him aware he was a dangerous man.

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Perhaps, with cases like these easily found on news websites, it would be different today, and Ms Best might have had access to more information.

But anyone who has killed two partners over 12 years should not be free, and should not have been free, to start a new relationship.

Lessons were learnt after Ms Wood’s death; perhaps more must be learnt now.

• Visit a police station or police counter to make a request under Clare’s law. You can only do it in person.