Sister of murdered woman says Nottingham victims' families penalised by 'meaningless sentence'

  • ITV News London's senior correspondent Ronke Phillips speaks to Yemi Ilumuka about how she feels the legal system continues to penalise her family

Hospital orders are unfair and unjust to the families of those killed, the sister of a pregnant woman murdered by a paranoid schizophrenic has said.

Yemi Ilumoka, whose sister, Abiodun (Abi) was murdered 16 years ago by a man who has paranoid schizophrenia, told ITV News London how the legal system continues to penalise her family, arguing changes are needed for the families of those killed by those with severe mental illness.

It comes after the attorney general announced a review of the decision by prosecutors to accept a manslaughter plea in the Nottingham attacks case.

Speaking outside Nottingham Crown Court following sentencing on Thursday, the families of Grace O'Malley Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates voiced their anger at the outcome.

  • Statements from Barnaby Webber's mother Emma Webber, Ian Coates' son James Coates and Grace O'Malley Kumar's father Dr Sanjoy Kumar after Calocane was given a hospital order

Emma Webber, the mother of Mr Webber, said "true justice has not been served today", adding the families had been "let down" by police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

She accused Nottinghamshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin of having "blood on his hands", following the force's failure to detain Calocane after an arrest warrant was issued in September 2022, over an assault on an officer.

The recent case has evoked memories for Yemi Ilumoka, whose heavily pregnant sister, Abi was stabbed to death in their Islington home by her boyfriend, Ben Anabah, in 2008. The baby also died.

Anabah was diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia and admitted two counts of manslaughter with diminished responsibility.

The family were told he would be held indefinitely in a secure hospital.

Benjamin Anabah

But two years later, Yemi received an email "out of the blue" saying Anabah was going to the Mental Health Tribunal and he could be discharged. After which she began "shaking and crying".

Yemi said the family was also not told when the offender was allowed escorted visits into the community.

She told ITV News London: "This is our Mr Bates vs The Post Office, in terms of families who are being short-changed by the CPS, selling us this meaningless sentencing."

But at the eleventh hour, just like the families in Nottingham, instead of murder, the killer would plead guilty to two counts of manslaughter - citing his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

When asked if she and the rest of the family were given any choice in the matter of the lesser plea of manslaughter, she replied: "No choice whatsoever, it was just sprung on us - just like this family.

"There was no choice. It was just done and dusted by the CPS."

Abi Ilumoka was six months pregnant when she was killed Credit: Family handout

Yemi has been fighting for change with the help of her MP since her sister was killed 16 years ago.

She is calling for a tariff or a minimum term attached to indefinite hospital orders.

Yemi also wants a section 45A to be applied, which means offenders who suffer from a treatable mental condition are returned to the criminal system to serve out the remainder of their sentences once they are well.

Most importantly, Yemi wants an end to annual reviews which gives hospital order offenders the right to have their sentences assessed after just six months.

She said: "This is his automatic right, their automatic right every year.

"Every year they are entitled to this - it's automatic, what the guidance says."

Abi was rushed to hospital after neighbours reported screams and the mother-to-be was found in the kitchen in a critically ill state Credit: Family handout

Speaking about the impact on her and her family, she said: "It is torture for me. Last year I had three notifications in one year.

"This is the honest truth, three notifications in one year."

Yemi belongs to a group with more than 100 families faced with the same annual torment and unless things change she says this is the pain which will be inflicted on the Nottingham families too.

On the question of offenders being able to plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has reiterated that no patient can be released without the express approval of the Secretary of State and those releases can be blocked if they are deemed to be a danger to the public.

On the second point, the MOJ said it was in a judge's power to impose one of those Section 45A orders - but in Abi's case and the Nottingham case, the judge opted against doing so.

On hospital orders being reviewed, the MOJ says it knows how stressful this is for the families and it has put more money into support services.

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