CPS Statement

CPS statement on previous decision not to prosecute Tony McLernon

24/05/2013

A review by the Crown Prosecution Service East of England into a previous decision not to prosecute Tony McLernon for an assault on his partner, whom he later murdered, has concluded the wrong decision was made.

Chief Crown Prosecutor for the East of England, Grace Ononiwu said: "At the end of the trial of Tony McLernon when he was convicted of the murder of Eystna Blunnie, I promised a review into an earlier decision not to prosecute him for an assault on Miss Blunnie in April 2012.

"I said at the time that I would make a statement once that review had concluded. I did not feel it was right that the general public should know the findings of the review before the parents of Miss Blunnie had a chance to consider it and ask questions.

"I have had two meetings with Mr and Mrs Blunnie to explain the background to the decision not to charge McLernon and to answer their questions and I am now able to make a statement on the review.

"I have confirmed to Mr and Mrs Blunnie that when the charging lawyer considered the papers from the police, if they had applied correctly the Code for Crown Prosecutors together with the CPS Policy on domestic violence and the aide-memoire, which aims to assist prosecutors with charging advice in domestic violence cases, then the rational decision would have been to authorise a charge.

"For this failure to authorise a charge in relation to the April 2012 incident, I have unreservedly apologised to Mr and Mrs Blunnie in person and in writing for the distress caused by this decision.

"Mr Blunnie has asked me if anything would change as a result of what happened to Miss Blunnie.

"One of the things we are doing is setting up Violence Against Women Panels in the East of England which would examine CPS decision making in selected cases. Such panels are to be staffed by members of the public as well as lawyers and I have extended an invitation to Mr and Mrs Blunnie to join the Panel.

"The East of England has the best conviction rate in the country for cases of domestic violence, but this case demonstrates the continued need to ever improve our handling and understanding of domestic violence. The fortitude displayed by Miss Blunnie's family strengthens my determination to do so."

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Miss Blunnie, who was pregnant with their child, was murdered on 27 June 2012, a few days before she due to give birth. Tony McLernon was found guilty at Chelmsford Crown court on 5 March 2013 of the murder of Miss Blunnie and also of child destruction. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 27 years.

2. CPS East of England Area which covers the counties of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk has an average conviction rate of 82.7% for domestic violence cases. The national average across England and Wales is 73.34% (2011-2012)

3. CPS policy on Domestic Violence on the CPS website:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/domestic/index.html

4. CPS Guidance on Domestic Violence including Aide-Memoire

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/domestic_violence_aide-memoire/index.html