Justice for Gemma: Family hope to force public inquiry over killing

Gemma Finnigan was brutally killed by her boyfriend, who had killed before.
Gemma Finnigan was brutally killed by her boyfriend, who had killed before.

Family and friends of a woman who was brutally killed by her partner have launched a petition calling for a public inquiry into her death.

Gemma Finnigan, 24, was strangled and stabbed repeatedly by Daniel Johnson on September 13, 2013, in the home they shared in Church View, Boldon Colliery.

Daniel Johnson killed Gemma when he was out on licence.

Daniel Johnson killed Gemma when he was out on licence.

The killing came 17 years after Johnson murdered a man in a street attack in Newcastle – something Gemma’s family say they were never fully informed of.

Johnson was jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court in 2014 after pleading guilty to Gemma’s manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibilty.

A domestic homicide review held into the killing revealed Gemma had been let down by a system in which a number of different agencies had failed to adequately communicate with each other.

The review also highlighted a number of missed opportunities by the agencies involved with the couple – and there were no official records about what Gemma’s family were made aware of over his previous conviction.

It’s like the report has been done and we should be happy with that. How can we be when there are so many questions that still have to be answered.

Jennifer Finnigan

The family say the review is not enough, and are aiming to have the matter of a public inquiry into the circumstances which led to her death raised in Parliament – for which they need 100,000 signatures.

Her heartbroken mum Jennifer Finnigan said: “We feel we have not had justice for Gemma.

“The review says mistakes were made and lessons have been learned, but not one person has been held accountable.

“There are a lot of questions that we just don’t have answers to.

“It just feels like everything was done to protect him and his past. My daughter didn’t really have a chance.”

Johnson had been on day release from prison, where he had been serving a life sentence, when he met Gemma in 2008.

However, her family maintain they were never fully informed of Johnson’s role in the brutal stabbing of 33-year-old David Younas in 1996.

They say they were led to believed he had killed someone as a result of a schoolboy fight which had got out of hand.

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

Ms Finnigan added: “We don’t feel we have been told the whole truth. This wasn’t some sort of petty crime he committed. He killed a grown man.

“Why were we not told of his past? Why was information not shared? There are so many unanswered questions.

Family friend Sharon Potts said: “We need to reach 100,000 signatures to have this raised in Parliament.

“We just hope as many people as possible will get behind us and help us to get justice for Gemma.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said:“This was a horrific crime and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim in this case.

“Public protection is our priority. A review found this case was managed sufficiently, but also raised areas for improvement that have since been addressed by the Probation Service.

“Serious offences are rare, but each one is taken seriously and fully investigated, with measures put in place where lessons can be learned.”

The petition can be signed by visiting www.change.org/organizations/justice_for_gemma