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Family questions killer's release

CCTV image of Nicola Edgington being arrested for the murder of Sally Hodkin. Photo: PA

The family of a grandmother murdered in the street by a convicted killer today demanded to know why she was freed to kill again.

Nicola Edgington was ordered to be detained indefinitely after stabbing her mother nine times.

But three years later she was released from a mental health unit to be cared for in the community.

After two years of being monitored by a psychiatrist, nurse and social worker, her life began to unravel.

She sought help at a local hospital but after delays in admitting her, she walked out and attacked two women in the street.

Kerry Clark, 22, managed to fight her off and take a knife from her.

But she walked round a corner, took a knife from a butchers and stabbed Sally Hodkin, 58, in Bexleyheath, south-east London, in October 2011.

Nicola Edgington Credit: PA

Edgington, 32, of Greenwich, south-east London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murder and attempted murder.

She was remanded in custody to be sentenced at a later date to a life term when the judge will decide on the minimum term she will serve.

A statement from Mrs Hodkin's family said: "We cannot quite understand how or why Nicola Edgington was released back into society so soon after killing her own mother.

"Her release in 2009 didn't involve any independent psychiatrists or mental health tribunals; the Ministry of Justice simply followed recommendations from the Bracton Centre where she was being held.

"This cannot have been the right decision, otherwise we would not be here today.

"It is our opinion that this woman should never be released back into society. The public need to be protected from people like her."

Sally Hodkin Credit: PA

But chief executive of Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust Stephen Firn said that a report into her treatment found that the decision to let her live in the community in 2009 was sound.

Mr Firn said: "I am very sorry that this tragic incident happened and would like to express again my sincere condolences to the family of Mrs Hodkin.

"The trust inquiry report concluded that the decision to recommend to the Ministry of Justice that Nicola Edgington was discharged from the Bracton Centre in 2009 was sound and the care she received in the community following her discharge was of good quality."

However he admitted that it was "a matter of extreme regret" that Edgington was able to leave mental health unit Oxleas House on the morning of the stabbings.

He said: "It is a matter of extreme regret that she was able to leave the unit before being admitted and subsequently carried out this dreadful crime."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The decision to discharge Nicola Edgington in 2009 was made by officials, without reference to ministers, under authority which is delegated as a matter of routine by the Secretary of State."

Edgington killed her mother in 2005 in Sussex and pleaded guilty in 2006 to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

She was sentenced to be detained under the Mental Health Act which meant that doctors could decide if she could be freed under supervision.

But forensic psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph said the diagnosis that she had schizophrenia, on material available at the time, was wrong.

He said evidence now showed that Edgington had a borderline personality disorder and was therefore responsible for her actions.

The court heard Edgington hoped to make a new life but a couple of romances went sour and things came to a head in October 2011.

A former boyfriend from a local gym sent her abusive messages, she became pregnant but had a miscarriage and an attempt to reconcile with her family fell flat.

Messages on Edgington's Facebook page where she signed in as Princess Nicole, were read to the court.

On the day before the killing, she sent a message to her brother Tom saying: "I am missing mum bad. I have just had a miscarriage and to be honest, no one is taking care of me like she did."

It ended "Love you xxx".

But the reply read: "You stabbed her to death and left me to find her body. It's good news about your miscarriage. People like you should be sterilised. Do us all a favour and cut your wrists."

In the early hours of October 10th, the day of the killing, police were called when she told cab office employees that she needed to be sectioned.

She was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where officers helped her book in at reception at around 4.30am.

But as they left, Edgington told them she did not feel safe there. She made a series of phone calls and later 999 calls.

In one call, she said: "I'm a very dangerous schizophrenic. If you don't come and help me I'm going end up hurting someone."

Edgington was accepted to the hospital's onsite psychiatric unit Oxleas House, but was not taken there until 6.30am.

But just after 7am, Edgington said she was going to call her care co-ordinator and left. Staff called police.

Edgington calmly took two buses to Bexleyheath, bought a large knife from an Asda supermarket and picked out the two women on their way to work.

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  • NHS 'regret' over Edgington

    The health trust that treated Nicola Edgington said it was "a matter of extreme regret" that she was able to leave a mental health unit.