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  1. ITV Report

Brother demands answers on why his murdered sister was not warned about boyfriends violent past

The brother of a woman found strangled by her boyfriend is demanding answers on why she was not warned about her killer's violent past.

42-year-old Serena Hickey from Milton Keynes was found dead in a hotel room near Bedford. She had been killed by her boyfriend Darren Ellis who she met online, not having a clue about his past.

Serena with her brother Zane.

I couldn't believe that, that would happen to such a bright, bubbly and loving person it just didn't make sense and such a strong person as well. I would never have believed this could have happened to Serena being that she was just so strong, physically and mentally. As I say just sheer disbelief.

– Zane Hopkins, Serena Hickey's Brother

What Serena couldn't have known, was that Ellis had a history of domestic violence, had spent time in prison and was under the supervision of staff working for a newly formed community rehabilitation company or CRC.

The Premier Inn in Kempston where Serena was strangled to death.

Serena was strangled to death by Ellis in a hotel in Kempston in Bedfordshire on the 13th September this year. He then drove 70 miles to Nuneaton in Warwickshire and threw himself onto railway lines.

The National Association of Probation Officers says Serena Hickey's death was preventable. It said, the case worker looking after Darren Ellis was severely over-loaded.

There are a number of factors that we believe have been caused by Chris Grayling's desire to sell off the probation service. His spilt of the service in June this year to two halves, the MPS and 21 contract at package areas has caused operational chaos, caused massive case loads for members, it caused them to not be able to talk to people in the same way as they normally would. It's caused delays in court reporting and all of these types of factors will have contributed and we believe they have contributed in this case.

– Ian Lawrence, National Association of Probation Officers

But the Ministry of Justice has defended its rehabilitation reforms.

Public safety is a key priority and we have tested our progress at every stage...We will be robustly defending the allegations (made by Napo) and expect new providers to be in place by early 2015.

– Ministry of Justice

For Serena Hickey's family though there are still many unanswered questions.

Her brother is now campaigning to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the failings which led to her death.

Serena's brother Zane talking to ITV Anglia about his sister's murder.

Had she had of know, given this persons past she may not have continued the relationship. Obviously she could have made a judgement call on that.

– Zane Hopkins, Serena Hickey's Brother