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Revealed: Mistakes that led to murder of Shropshire teenager Georgia Williams

Telford | News | Published:

Serious failings by police, social workers and mental health professionals contributed to the murder of Shropshire teenager Georgia Williams. Killer Jamie Reynolds had been known to police and other agencies for more than five years before the fatal attack. But they failed to act and a case file on him was closed in 2010, three years before he strangled Georgia.

Georgia Williams

Today the findings of a serious case review were released. The Shropshire Star has also seen the results of a separate independent inquiry carried out by Devon and Cornwall Police.

Both reports criticise those in contact with Reynolds for failing to act on signs that he was a danger to others.

West Mercia Police today insisted lessons have been learned following the case and have made "considerable changes" to ensure a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again.

But Georgia's parents criticised the "chaos, incompetence, complacency and don't care attitude" that contributed to her death.

The 17-year-old was killed by Reynolds in May 2013.

Jamie Reynolds

They knew one another because they grew up in the same community and lived in close proximity, but he took advantage of their friendship to lure her to his home on the pretence of assisting him with a photographic shoot. He persuaded her to pose for a photograph with her head in a noose before killing her.

Reynolds was arrested, convicted and sentenced to a full life term in prison for the murder of Georgia, former head girl at Ercall Wood Technology College. He appealed his life sentence but it was refused.

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After the murder, it came to light that Reynolds, of Avondale Road, Wellington had been known to multiple agencies when he was 17.

There were concerns about his sexual behaviour and his mental health.

Following an attack on a 16-year-old girl in 2008, Reynolds had regular contact with the West Mercia Youth Offender Service, Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services and the NSPCC.

Jamie Reynolds

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During that time he had also been found to have defaced photographs of girls he knew, adding make up and drawing nooses around their necks, and had spent years watching violent pornography online involving images of women being hanged.

Mental health workers described Reynolds as a "significant risk to others having progressed from viewing images to harming an individual". Reynolds was even prescribed medication for moderate depression but rather than act on concerns, experts instead decided to "watch and wait".

His case was closed in 2010. He had no contact with health agencies or social workers other than the NSPCC and just three years later he went on to kill.

Together, the agencies involved admit to failings and have accepted recommendations to improve put together in today's report. A number of West Mercia Police officers face misconduct charges at a hearing in November.

Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, David Shaw, today admitted that the agencies involved had failed, adding: "We cannot even begin to adequately express or truly understand the immense loss felt by Georgia's family and friends following her murder and our thoughts have remained with them throughout this review process."

Laura Johnston, director for children and family services at Telford & Wrekin Council, said: "We are determined to reduce the risk of anything like this happening again in Telford."

Today, Georgia's parents, Steve and Lynnette Williams described Reynolds as a "murderer in the making."

Since the investigation, a number of key changes have been made to the way that officers handle future cases like this in the future. The report released today is one of two into the case and follows the release of an inquiry held by Devon and Cornwall Police.

This report, dubbed Operation Columbia, has been shown to the Shropshire Star. It said four misconduct meetings should take place in relation to three officers and one member of police staff. A further five officers were found to have no misconduct case to answer but two would be subject to management action.

Following the Devon and Cornwall Police report the victims involved in the case chose to appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for stronger measures to be taken against some of the police officers and staff involved.

A fourth officer will now be subject to a misconduct meeting, as opposed to management action. This appeals process has now concluded, with the meetings set to be held in November.

There is a clear case to be made that Georgia's horrific death could have been prevented. The grief and suffering that this knowledge would cause a parent can only be imagined.

Meanwhile, Telford MP Lucy Allan was today hoping to raise the case in Parliament.

Ms Allan said: "Georgia's parents have fought bravely for a serious case review to be carried out. It is a particularly tragic case for all concerned. I would like to believe that all agencies will learn from this case.

"I know the local police share the family's grief; those involved in the case were family friends, as Steve had been a long serving police officer.

"However, too often in these cases bureaucrats can become defensive and fail to accept blame; that is never helpful in achieving better working practices for the future.

"Telford has been deeply affected by Georgia's murder and through the efforts of family and friends the community has come together to make much good come from this terrible tragedy, through the Georgia Williams Trust. Georgia will always be remembered for the fine young woman that she was."

Ms Allan tweeted:

Reports by Sophie Madden and Emma Walker

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