A multiple child murderer was left free to kill after “appalling” blunders by the Probation Service, The Telegraph can reveal.
Damien Bendall, 32, was given a whole-life sentence this week for killing three children and his pregnant partner with a hammer in Killamarsh, Derbyshire, last September, three months after receiving a suspended sentence for arson.
It can now be disclosed that a probation officer who assessed Bendall’s record for the sentencing judge in the arson case has been sacked for gross misconduct after miscategorising him as “medium risk” rather than “high risk”.
Probation officials believe it is unlikely that Bendall – who had a history of violent offending – would have been free to carry out one of the most grotesque child murder rampages in recent decades if the pre-sentence report had accurately reflected his risk.
The probation officer in question is understood to have spent a lot of time working from home, meaning other members of the team did not get the usual opportunities to offer advice on or read the report.
Bendall’s probation supervision was subsequently passed from Swindon, where the arson took place, to the East Midlands, where another officer has separately been found guilty of misconduct for allocating his case to a trainee.
The catalogue of errors has prompted the Ministry of Justice to order the Chief Inspector of Probation to carry out a full review of the case, which sources said is likely to be released in the new year.
The revelations raise fresh questions about the adequacy of Britain’s Probation Service after a report in September found that around 500 serious offences a year were being committed by offenders under supervision.
The agency has also been beset by high-profile scandals including that of Joseph McCann, who went on a rampage of sexual violence across the country while under supervision, and Usman Khan,