Argoed murder: Islwyn MP calls for reform of probation
News | | Published: 11:17, Tuesday April 18th, 2017.
Islwyn Member of Parliament Chris Evans has called for reform of the criminal justice system after an ex-prisoner brutally killed a young woman in a drug-fuelled attack just 14 days after being released.
Matthew Williams, 34, who had a history of drug use and mental health problems, attacked and killed 22-year-old shopworker Cerys Yemm at the Sirhowy Arms Hotel in Argoed on November 6, 2014. An inquest into the deaths, held in Newport, heard that Williams had served all of his 27-month sentence for blackmail at HMP Parc Bridgend and as a result was not monitored by the probation service – despite him sending threatening letters to people while inside.
Deputy head of public protection, Jonathan Matthews, told the three-week hearing: “At the point of the sentence ending, whether we like it or not, we have no power.”
Miss Yemm died from her injuries while Williams died of a cardiac arrest shortly after being tasered by police officers trying to restrain him.
Speaking after the inquest, which concluded on Wednesday, April 5, Islwyn MP Mr Evans said it was unclear why Williams was released “despite remaining a threat to society” and called for probation officers to be given more power over released offenders.
He said: “Overall, this case shows that there must be reform of the Probation Service.
“The Probation Service was simply unable to force Mr Williams to take the support he required because he had served out his sentence.
“This has to change and former prisoners must be required to undergo monitoring, or at the very least treatment, until officers are confident they no longer pose a threat to society.”
Mr Evans said the inquest had highlighted the need for greater co-operation between the probation service, local authorities and other organisations which deal with prisoner release.
The inquest heard Williams was released on October 23, 2014, and was met by his father at the prison gates.
They went to Newport Council’s housing department but were turned away because Williams could not prove a local connection to the area. He went back to Caerphilly County Borough Council which housed him at the Sirhowy Arms.
The Labour MP added: “The public investigations have covered a great deal of ground but there are a number of key questions which still need to be answered.
“We need an explanation as to why Welsh Government guidelines were not followed and why Mr Williams was not housed in Newport.
“It is also unclear why Mr Williams was released despite remaining a threat to society.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that the officers who dealt with Williams acted with reasonable and necessary force while restraining him.
The Ministry of Justice said: “This was a tragic case and our thoughts are with the victim’s family. We will now carefully consider the findings of the inquest.”