A DISTRAUGHT family who say they weren’t told the full extent of a killer’s brutal past when he began dating their daughter, say a report on her shocking death is an “insult to her memory”.
Gemma Finnigan was 24 years old when her life was ended by her partner Daniel Johnson.
The 33-year-old, already a convicted murderer who had been allowed out on licence, strangled and stabbed Miss Finnigan at the home they shared in Church View, Boldon Colliery, in September 2013.
Johnson, who believed Gemma had been possessed by Satan, was jailed for life in November after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibilty.
But her family say that while they knew Johnson had been involved in another man’s death as a teenager, it was only after Gemma’s killing they found out the true extent of his violent past.
Johnson had been handed a life sentence as a teenager for his part in the murder of David Younas. The 33-year-old, died in his fiance’s arms, after being stabbed more than 10 times as they made their way home from a night out in Newcastle in 1996.
Gemma’s death is now the subject of an ongoing serious case review.
In a two-page Serious Further Offence summary report handed to Gemma’s family by Northumbria Community Rehabilitation Company, probation officials say the full extent of Johnson’s past was made clear to the family in a meeting at which Johnson told of his crime – a statement her mother Jennifer Finnigan strongly refutes.
Ms Finnigan said: “We were never told the whole brutal facts of what he had done in the past. We had been led to believe it had been a fight between schoolkids and one of them had been killed. I thought I was doing the right thing giving him a second chance.
“There was no mention of weapons or that the victim was an adult minding his own business. If I had known the true facts, there is no way he would have been welcomed into the family and I know Gemma would not have stayed with him.
“This report is an insult to her memory and an insult to us. Despite what the report says we were never told the full extent of his violent past.”
Gemma had met Johnson while he was on day release from an open prison in 2008, after serving time behind bars for the killing.
The summary report stated at a meeting on February 16, 2009, between Johnson, the probation officer, Ms Finnigan and her family, “Johnson gave a full account of the offence and this is noted in records made at the time.”
However, the family dispute the detail provided to them regarding his previous conviction.
The report went on to say the way the Probation Service handle such meetings has now changed, stating that “they normally now take place jointly with the police, and there is usually a fuller record about what exactly has been said.”
Ms Finnigan added: “I just feel Gemma was let down badly by the Probation Service. What they led me to believe and when you saw him, you just wouldn’t have thought any different.
“You would have never looked at him and thought he was capable of something so horrific. He was welcomed into our home, he went on holiday with us and, I can’t lie, they were good together.
“I’m not saying I might have been able to stop her from seeing him, if that is what she wanted, but I would have been more aware of what he was capable of and I would have done everything in my power to protect her.
“It just feels like that decision, to protect my daughter, was taken away from me.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Our sympathies are with the victim’s family following this abhorrent crime. Public protection is our priority and we are determined to have the best possible systems in place to supervise offenders in the community and protect the public.
“In all cases of serious further offending, a review is carried out to identify any learning for the management of future cases.”