Family hope for answers as inquest announced into death of Gemma Finnigan

Gemma Finnigan
Gemma Finnigan

A mother’s four-year fight for answers over her daughter’s killing has moved one step closer with an inquest set to be opened into her death.

Jennifer Finnigan says she has always remained determined to face the agencies she feels let down 24-year-old Gemma Finnigan.

Gemma Finnigan

Gemma Finnigan

Gemma was killed by her partner Daniel Johnson in September 2013 at their home in Boldon Colliery.

The killing came 17 years after Johnson murdered a man in a street attack in Newcastle as a teenager. He had been out on licence when he met Gemma.

A Domestic Homicide Review carried out after her death said Gemma had been let down by a system in which a number of different agencies failed to communicate with each other.

The report concluded Gemma’s death “could not have been predicted” but – because of a lack of any documented robust risk assessment – they were unable to reach a conclusion as to whether her death was preventable.

As Gemma’s mam I deserve to have my questions answered into my daughter’s death

Jennifer Finnigan

They also highlighted a number of “missed opportunities” to carry out assessments.

Ms Finnigan has also always maintained the family were not made aware of the full scale of Johnson’s past when she was visited by a probation officer after the couple began their relationship.

The Ministry of Justice claims the family were told the full details of his conviction.

Since the report was issued, Jennifer along with family friend Sharon Potter, and supported by a London-based solicitor have pressed for an inquest into Gemma’s death to be opened.

Police officers at the scene of the killing in Church View, Boldon Colliery. The body of Gemma Finnigan was discovered in an upstairs flat.

Police officers at the scene of the killing in Church View, Boldon Colliery. The body of Gemma Finnigan was discovered in an upstairs flat.

South Tyneside Coroner’s office has now confirmed an inquest will be opened, on a date yet to be set.

Jennifer said: “We are just waiting now for a date. I’m really pleased. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted.

“It has been really hard and there were times when I wanted to give up. But, as Gemma’s mam, I feel I deserve to have my questions answered into my daughter’s death and to ask questions of those agencies that failed my daughter.

“There has been a lot of missed opportunities that might have prevented Gemma’s death, and if I had been given more information I would have been able to protect my daughter better.

Police officers and paramedics at the scene of the killing of Gemma Finnigan in Church View, Boldon Colliery.

Police officers and paramedics at the scene of the killing of Gemma Finnigan in Church View, Boldon Colliery.

“Since Gemma was killed, I have thought about nothing else. Right now I don’t have any memories of Gemma as all my thoughts have been consumed with all these unanswered questions I have, all these thoughts.

“I just want to be able to put my Gemma to rest, put all these files away, grieve for my daughter and remember her how she should be remembered.”

Family friend Miss Potter said: “After the court case, the inquest was closed and Jennifer never had any answers over the full circumstances surrounding Gemma’s death.

“Reading through the reports there are a lot of unanswered questions over why certain steps weren’t taken to safeguard Gemma and her family. This has gone on for four years. At times Jennifer has felt like giving up, doubted herself and felt like a nobody who was fighting against big agencies.

“But she isn’t a nobody. She is a mother who deserves answers. This inquest is a massive step forward.

“We know it isn’t going to bring Gemma back, we just want answers. We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

Jennifer Finnigan

Jennifer Finnigan

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson