Homicide level down for first time in five years

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Image copyright PA Media
Image caption More than a third of all homicides in the UK in 2019 were as a result of a fatal stabbing

The number of people killed across the UK fell in 2019 for the first time in five years, BBC research suggests.

In total, 650 people were killed in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland last year – down from the 774 homicides in 2018, police figures show.

Despite the drop, homicides in London rose for a third successive calendar year – to the highest level since 2008.

It comes a week after the home secretary gave 18 police forces £35m to combat violence.

Throughout 2019, the BBC recorded details of murder and manslaughter investigations launched by the 46 UK police forces.

Homicide figures fell for 26 of those forces while five recorded the same figure as in 2018.

In London – one of the areas to see a notable increase and where the number of killings was highest – the Metropolitan Police launched 149 homicide investigations.

The British Transport Police led three murder investigations on the London Underground network and Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were both stabbed to death in the City of London on 29 November.

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It meant the overall figure for London for 2019 rose to its highest level since 2008, when there were 154 killings.

The Met Police said tackling violence remained a top priority, adding that it had anti-knife crime plans specific to boroughs and aimed to have more than 32,000 officers by summer 2020 – which would represent a 7% increase on the 29,924 officers the Met had in April 2018.

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Media captionArsenal fan Tashan Daniel was stabbed to death at Hillingdon Tube station

Commander Jane Connors said: “We know that drug dealing is inextricably linked with a high proportion of the violence seen on our streets.

“Therefore, we will continue to target those who, for the sole purpose of financial gain, exploit children and target the most vulnerable within our communities.

“However, the causes of violence are complex and police cannot solve it alone.

“Solutions will require a holistic and sustainable approach that will involve a range of action from government, education, health, social services, housing, youth services and the public.”

According to BBC research, the majority of UK police forces saw a fall in homicides compared with 2018.

West Midlands Police said the number fell from 51 in 2018 to 39 last year; while homicides in Greater Manchester were down from 64 to 39.

In Merseyside the homicide level halved, down from 21 to 10, while West Yorkshire Police launched 21 homicide investigations in 2019 compared with 39 in 2018.

Merseyside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley said this was down to a “relentless suppression” of serious organised crime and also reducing the number of domestic violence killings.

“At the other end, it is about stopping young people getting into crime in the first place,” he said.

“We will target relentlessly people who feel they can control what is taking place in order to obtain money and use bullying, cowardly tactics to groom young people to carry knives and firearms.”

Elsewhere in England, Essex saw a notable increase from 13 homicides in 2018 to 54 homicides last year – but the figure does include the 39 Vietnamese nationals which were found in the back of a lorry in Grays in October.

West Mercia, Devon and Cornwall, Sussex and Cheshire police forces all saw drops in homicides recorded in 2019 compared to the previous 12 months.

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Media captionThirty nine bodies were found inside the trailer

South Wales Police, the largest force in Wales, saw a rise in homicides from ten in 2018 to 14 in 2019.

Det Ch Supt Jason Davies said it was the force’s “priority to ensure perpetrators are apprehended quickly”.

He added: “In relation to all 14 homicide investigations conducted in 2019, a total of 22 individuals have either been arrested, charged or convicted.”

On 29 December, the Home Office announced an additional £35m for various so-called violence reduction units (VRU) to 18 police forces in England and Wales.

Home Secretary Pritti Patel said the VRUs “played a vital role in diverting young people away from crime”.

Image caption In Wales in 2019 four police forces recorded 25 homicides – one higher than the previous year

Police Scotland, which provided figures for the year ending March 2019, said homicides were down 11% on the year before.

Northern Ireland saw 26 homicides – two more than 2018 – and PSNI’s Det Supt Jason Murphy explained that many homicides in Northern Ireland were “complex” and had varied factors compared with other UK regions.

Det Supt Murphy, who is leading the murder investigation into the fatal shooting of journalist Lyra McKee, said Northern Ireland had far more “terrorist-related” homicides than the rest of UK – but also fewer killings linked to county lines and organised crime.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Ninety-five people were stabbed to death in London in 2019

In March three teenagers were crushed to death at a St Patrick’s Day party at a hotel in Cookstown, County Tyrone, in December a man was charged with the murder of two people who were found dead in a flat in Belfast and in 2019 three cases were linked to paramilitaries.

The detection rate was above 80%, Det Supt Murphy added.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are establishing a Royal Commission to ensure a fair justice system that works for the law-abiding majority and will strengthen protections for domestic abuse victims.

“We are also giving the police more powers to take dangerous weapons off our streets and are investing in early intervention projects and Violence Reduction Units to tackle the root causes of crime.”

First 100 UK killings 2019

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100 homicides

  • Brian Fox


    1 January Dundee

    Brian Fox,62, died following an altercation at a taxi rank in Dundee city centre.

    He suffered a fatal head injury when he fell to the ground after being punched. Wes Reid, 20, was cleared of culpable homicide at the High Court in Edinburgh.

    His co-accused Adam Valentine, 25, admitted assaulting Mr Fox, who was described as a peacemaker.

  • Charlotte Huggins


    1 January Camberwell, south London

    Charlotte Huggins,33, died just a few hours after celebrating the start of the new year.

    She was stabbed in the back in her South London home by her jealous boyfriend, Michael Rolle. He was jailed for a minimum of 20 years.

    In a message posted on Facebook shortly before being attacked, Ms Huggins, who had a ten-year-old daughter, wished her friends and family a “healthy, happy 2019.”

  • Jay Edmunds


    1 January Kirton, Lincolnshire

    Jay Edmunds, 27, was described as “a vibrant, funny, beautiful, loving daughter and sister” by her family.

    She was killed in a house fire in Kirton, Lincolnshire that was deliberately started by her “vengeful” ex-boyfriend Ashley Martin, 32, who also died in the blaze.

    He stabbed Jay’s friend, Billy Hicks in the heart during the attack in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

  • Billy Hicks


    1 January Kirton, Lincolnshire

    Billy Hicks, 24, died in a house fire in Kirton, Lincolnshire that was deliberately started by Ashley Martin, 32, who had also stabbed him.

    Mr Hicks’ family said he was “a very loving and caring person.”

    An inquest heard how “vengeful” Martin also killed his ex-girlfriend Jay Edmunds, 27, in the blaze, which started in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

  • Tudor Simionov


    1 January Central London

    Tudor Simionov, 33, was working as a doorman at a private New Year’s Eve party in central London when he was fatally stabbed after a group of men tried to gate-crash.

    Adam Khalil 21, and Haroon Akram, 26, pleaded guilty to his manslaughter. A third defendant will be re-tried later this year.

    Mr Simionov had recently moved from Romania to start a new life in London.

  • David Capseed


    3 January Old Swan, Liverpool

    David Capseed, 57, was “beaten and kicked to death” at a Salvation Army hostel in Liverpool by fellow-resident Michael McConville.

    The trial heard that McConville, who was a drug addict, thought that Mr Capseed had stolen money.

    He killed him in a “wholly unjustified and unnecessary punishment beating” and was jailed for a minimum of 16-and-a-half years. Mr Capseed was a “deeply loved and cherished father” to his three sons.

  • Lee Pomeroy


    4 January Horsley, Surrey

    Lee Pomeroy, 51, was murdered while travelling on a train into London with his 14-year-old son.

    He had got into an argument with a fellow passenger who launched a “frenzied” attack, stabbing the IT consultant 18 times in 20 seconds. Darren Pencille, a paranoid schizophrenic with over a dozen previous convictions, was jailed for a minimum of 28 years.

    Mr Pomeroy’s widow, Svetlana said: “On Friday January 4 my life and that of my son changed forever. My husband of 18 years died in a sudden, violent and distressing way.”

  • Simbiso Aretha Moula


    4 January Rainham, East London

    Simbiso Aretha Moula, 39, was found dead at her home in East London.

    Her husband Garikayo Moula, 51, who is believed to have killed her, had died from hanging.

    Ms Moula worked as a midwife at the Queen’s Hospital in Romford after moving with her husband from Zimbabwe.

  • Sarah Ashraf


    5 January Tower Hamlets, East London

    Sarah Ashraf, 35, was choked to death by her brother, Khalid who was sentenced to a Hospital Order after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

    Ms Ashraf, who had a “heart of gold” according to her family, had gone to stay with her brother in Docklands, East London because she was concerned about his mental health.

    Ashraf told police he had been instructed to kill by Satan.

  • Jaden Moodie


    8 January Leyton, East London

    Jaden Moodie, 14, was knocked off a moped and stabbed to death in a drug turf war.

    Jaden had moved to London from Nottingham with his mother for a “new start” six months before he died.

    But he had been drawn into criminality and gangs. Ayoub Majdouline, 18, was convicted of murder.

  • Gavin Moon


    8 January Washington, Tyne and Wear

    Gavin Moon, 31, was stabbed to death following a “heated row” in a flat in Tyne and Wear.

    Brian Goldsmith, 47, and Luc Barker, 28, who were convicted of murder, had stolen drugs from Mr Moon, who was described as “a much loved father.”

  • Przemyslaw Cierniak


    10 January Boston, Lincolnshire

    Przemyslaw Cierniak,41 was stabbed multiple times in a car park in Boston, Lincolnshire after he asked to borrow £1 from friends.

    Dariusz Kaczkowski,33 and Mariusz Skiba,32 were jailed for life. During their trial, the jury heard the three men had gone down an alleyway in the town centre intending to take amphetamine and drink alcohol.

    Mr Cierniak came to the UK from Poland ten years ago.

  • Bashir Abdullah


    10 January Lansdowne Court, Easton, Bristol

    Bashir Abdullah, 32, died after being stabbed at a block of flats in Bristol.

    His neighbour, Jamal Sheik-Mohammed pleaded guilty to manslaughter but has yet to be sentenced.

  • Asma Begum


    11 January Tower Hamlets, East London

    Asma Begum, 31, was stabbed over 50 times by her gambling addict husband, Jalal Uddin in their East London home in an attack so ferocious that pieces of the blade broke off.

    The mother-of-three was described in a family statement as “loving, caring and always filled any room with laughter.”

    Uddin was jailed for a minimum of 19 years.

  • Leanne Unsworth


    14 January Burnley, Lancashire

    Grandmother Leanne Unsworth, 40, was struck multiple times with a hammer in a “frenzied attack of the utmost intensity” at her home in Burnley, Lancashire by a man she had sought to help.

    Shaun Sanders, 40, who has paranoid schizophrenia, and had taken the drug, spice, was experiencing a psychotic episode at the time. He was given a hospital order after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

    He was sentenced to life with a minimum term of four years and 48 days.

  • Amy Griffiths


    14 January Droitwich, Worcestershire

    Transgender woman Amy Griffiths, 51, was found with head and throat injuries at her flat in Droitwich.

    She was declared dead at the scene. Friends described her as “a hero” in the local LGBT community.

    Martin Saberi, 53, who denies murder, will face trial later this year.

  • Christy Walshe


    15 January Southend, Essex

    Christy Walsh, 40, was shot in the face at point blank range by her jealous partner, Michael Strudwick, 33, at her Southend flat.

    After pleading guilty to murder, Strudwick was jailed for a minimum of 26 years and 25 days.

    In a statement Ms Walshe’s mother Jacqueline Stead said: “The thoughts of my daughters last moments, how scared she must have been seeing the gun pointed at her, haunt me.”

  • Alison Hunt


    16 January Swinton, Greater Manchester

    Manchester mum Alison Hunt, 42, was the victim of a knife attack on “a defenceless woman at the front door of her own home” while her 16-year old daughter was asleep upstairs.

    The trial judge told her killer, Vernon Holmes, 47, it was a “grotesque attempt to assert your control over her” following the break-up of the couple’s relationship.

    Holmes was jailed for a minimum of 24 years and 185 days.

  • Tom Bell


    17 January Balby, Doncaster

    Professional boxer Tom Bell, 21 was shot dead in a pub in Doncaster by drug dealer Scott Gocoul, 28.

    The trial judge said the killing arose out of a “long standing desire for revenge” by Gocoul, whom he jailed for a minimum of 33 years. Joseph Bennia, 30, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 17 years.

    The victim’s mother, Tracy Langley said: “When Tom was killed, I was killed as well.”

  • Luz Margory Isaza Villegas


    17 January Northchurch Common, Hertfordshire

    Margory Villegas, 50, was strangled by her “jealous and obsessive “husband, who put her body into a suitcase and set fire to it before burying it in woods near their home in Hemel Hempstead.

    Ex-policeman Rodrigo Giraldo, 55, told police and his children that Margory had gone missing. He was jailed for at least 19 years.

    Appearing as a prosecution witness, the couple’s son, Julian Giraldo told the court his mum “gave her entire life for the family.”

  • Wayne Boylan


    18 January Warrenpoint, County Down

    Father-of-two Wayne Boylan, 37, died after being shot in the head at a flat in Warrenpoint.

    Police say he was enjoying an evening at a friend’s house when two masked men burst in and shot him, police said.

    A 21-year-old woman was also seriously injured and taken to hospital for emergency surgery.

  • Frank Sinclair


    19 January East Kilbride

    Frank Sinclair, 61, died following an alleged assault behind a community centre in East Kilbride.

    Prosecutors claim his head had been repeatedly stamped upon.

    A 16-year-old boy denies murder and will face trial later this year.

  • Casey Lea Taylor


    21 January Little Lever, Bolton

    Three-year-old Casey Lea Taylor was found dead with her one-year-old sister, Darcey Grace Stevens, at their home in Little Lever.

    The body of their mother, Tiffany Stevens, 27, was also found. Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the girls’ deaths.

    Casey Lea’s father, Liam Taylor, said Casey was “a beautiful little girl who was deeply loved by many.”

  • Darcey Grace Stevens


    21 January Little Lever, Bolton

    One-year-old Darcey Grace Stevens was found dead with her three-year-old sister, Casey Lea Taylor, at their home in Little Lever.

    The body of their mother, Tiffany Stevens, 27, was also found. Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the girls’ deaths.

    Darcey’s father, Gary Eden said: “She will always live on through me.”

  • Mary Annie Sowerby


    22 January Dearham, Cumbria

    Mary Annie Sowerby, known as Annie, was a “devoted wife” who filled her life with joy and happiness,” her family said.

    Ms Sowerby, 69, was stabbed repeatedly in the chest and neck by her son as she watched TV. Lee Sowerby, 45, had a history of mental health issues. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was jailed to a minimum of 11 years.

    His family said the death had been “devastating” and expressed “frustrations of failures at the hands of the mental health services”.

  • Stephen O'Donnell


    22 January HMP Risley, Warrington

    Prisoner Stephen O’Donnell, 33, was fatally stabbed with an “improvised weapon” by a fellow inmate following a row over a DVD player in HMP Risley, Cheshire.

    Prolific burglar Adrisse Gray, 24, admitted murder and was sentenced for a minimum of 18 years.

    The judge said “Mr O’Donnell may have been no angel, but he was a loving and cherished son, brother and father.”

  • Julie Webb


    23 January Handsworth, Birmingham

    44-year-old Julie Webb was found with serious head injuries at an address in Albert Road, Handsworth.

    She later died in hospital.

  • Ian Ogle


    27 January East Belfast

    Ian Ogle, died after being stabbed and beaten in the street near his home.

    The father of two had acted as a spokesman for the loyalist community in East Belfast.

    Three men will face trial in 2020.

  • Kamil Malysz


    27 January Acton, West London

    Kamil Malysz, 34, was found dead in a flat in Acton, west London.

    Mr Malysz, who was a Polish national, had been stabbed.

    Police are offering a £20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Patyrk Makuch, 34, who is believed to have travelled to Europe. A European Arrest Warrant has been obtained and his details circulated.

  • Nedim Bilgin


    29 January Islington, north London

    Seventeen-year-old Nedim Bilgin died after being stabbed in the street in Islington.

    Speaking at the scene, Islington Councillor Paul Convery said the area had been blighted by tensions between gangs for years.

    Almost a year on from his slaying, no one has been charged with Nedim’s murder.

  • Michael Liddell


    31 January Gloucester

    Michael Liddell, 35, was fatally stabbed by his 65-year-old mother, Joy Liddell at their Gloucester home following a row that was possibly fuelled by alcohol, an inquest heard.

    Mrs Liddell died in March from heart disease, four months before her murder trial was due to start.

  • Reece Ottaway


    1 February Northampton

    Reece Ottaway, 23, was “repeatedly stabbed and left for dead” by a group of men who “smashed their way” into his flat.

    Northampton Crown Court heard Mr Ottaway was a cannabis dealer who was killed by men from a drugs gang. They had wanted to rob him of money and drugs.

    Mr Ottaway’s mother, Charlotte Marshall said “this was the cruellest act possible.” Four men were convicted of murder, a fifth was found guilty of manslaughter.

  • Mary Page


    1 February Wolverhampton

    Mary Page, 68, was beaten to death with a cabinet door by her son during a row about her drinking at their home in Wolverhampton.

    Matthew Page, who had an autism spectrum disorder, went to bed afterwards. He confessed to the killing the next day and was later jailed for six years and eight months.

    His defence counsel said Mr Page was “shrivelled by guilt and remorse.”

  • Margaret Smythe


    1 February Bolton

    Margaret Smythe, known as Maggie, was murdered by her ex-partner who then dismembered her body.

    Christopher Taylor, 40, who was a builder from Bolton, lured the bus station cleaner to a late-night meeting and killed her. Jailing him for a minimum of 24 years, the judge said Taylor’s actions were “grotesque, heartless and chilling.”

    Ms Smythe’s family said she was “a best friend to us all.”

  • Carl Thorpe


    3 February Highgate, London

    Carl Thorpe, 46, died in a fire at a mental health centre in North London.

    Around 100 people were evacuated from the building, but Mr Thorpe died at the scene.

    Jordan Bramble, 21, has been charged with murder and will stand trial this year.

  • Jurijs Paramonovs


    3 February Wisbech

    Jurijs Paramonovs, 46, was murdered by his housemate in a drunken row at his home in Wisbech.

    Oleg Titovs, 49, stabbed his friend through the heart after he “lost his self-control.” He was jailed for a minimum of 18 years.

    Mr Paramonovs, who had two children, settled in the UK from Latvia.

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