The inquest into the homicide of Quyen Ngoc Nguyen, 28, has today concluded with the coroner finding that she was unlawfully killed. Quyen died on 15 August 2017 after being brutally attacked and raped and placed in the back of a burning car by two men who had been released from prison on licence. The medical cause of death was consistent with the effects of fire.
The coroner concluded that known breaches of the licence conditions, to which the two men were subject, “were not acted upon in a sufficient, timely and co-ordinated manner (including a failure of information sharing), all of which were not causative but possibly contributed to her death”.
Quyen was a nail technician from Vietnam who lived in Sunderland with her two young children after moving to the UK in 2010. Her family describe her as an intelligent woman who was living the life that she had dreamed of.
William John McFall and Stephen Unwin, who were under the supervision of the National Probation Service, attacked Quyen whilst out of prison on life licence having previously met in prison whilst serving life sentences for separate murders. Evidence was heard that on release from prison both Unwin and McFall had a personal and business relationship. In 2018 a criminal trial was held, in which both men were convicted of murdering Quyen, and were both given further life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The inquest heard that Northumbria Police held 26 items of intelligence upon Unwin between his release and Quyen’s murder. There were five major examples of serious incidents; of these. four were never reported to the Probation Service, despite a responsibility to share information, and one, though passed on to a meeting where senior Probation staff were present, never reached Unwin’s supervising officer.

The last of the five incidents occurred on 2 July 2017, six weeks before Quyen was killed. Evidence was heard that Unwin had messaged a Facebook user, threatening to smash her jaw and take it in turns with another to rape her. The recipient raised a complaint with Northumbria Police and told the police that he had been in prison for murder. The police responded by ringing Unwin and gave him “words of advice” over the phone. However, nobody alerted Probation who had responsibility for the management of Unwin’s life sentence.
The coroner said that the evidence exposed “a system for the protection of the public which was at times dysfunctional, contributed to by human factors”. He will be writing a report to prevent future deaths to be sent to the Secretary of State for Justice, the Chief Constable of Northumbria Police and to the National Probation Service highlighting concerns around the failures of communication from a number of sources, supervision, issues of risk management and staff turnover, and pressures upon staff performance and the ability to investigate self-reporting.
Quynh, sister of Quyen said: They should have carried out procedures more swiftly and earlier - its too late for my family now-at least a better system can help other families to prevent other such tragedies.
Nothing can bring my sister back now - the suffering from her death is unbearable and has hugely affected all family members physically and mentally. I was hoping that there would be some support for us as victims of crime because we have to carry on with our lives, but we have had no support from anywhere over the last two years. Our thanks however to the Coroner for holding this important enquiry.”
Deborah Coles, INQUEST Director said: This inquest has performed a vital function in scrutinising the actions and inactions of the state, in the hope that future deaths can be prevented. It is unacceptable that the family had to wait until two days before the inquest began to be informed that their funding application had been successful, causing significant and unnecessary distress”. 
Ruth Bundey advocate for the family said: “Crucial evidence emerged revealing a disconnect between Probation and Police and the limitations of supervision where there is no investigation to obtain corroboration of an offender’s claims. The concern of the family, as ever, is that future safeguards should ensure the same omissions cannot reoccur.”



For more information contact Sarah Uncles on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected]

INQUEST has been working with the family of Quyen Ngoc Nguyen since January 2019. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Ruth Bundey from Harrison Bundey.

A photo of Quyen Ngoc Nguyen is available on request.
The other interested persons represented at the inquest were the National Probation Service and Northumbria Police Force.

Other deaths involving murders carried out by people on licence to the probation service include:

  • Alex Malcolm, 5, was killed by a man in November 2016. The former partner of his mother was under supervision of probation service following a series of convictions for violent behaviour. Despite having spoken to the relevant probation officer, Alex’s mother was never made aware of her former partner’s history and the risks for which he was being monitored. See media coverage
  • Lisa Skidmore, 37, was killed by a man in November 2016 who was been supervised by probation services. He had informed the probation services that he wanted to be violent again but was never recalled to prison. See media coverage.
  • Connor Marshall, 18, died in March 2015, after being attacked by a man on probation who had breached the terms of his license and missed numerous meetings. See media coverage.
  • Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, Kevin Lee, 48, and John Chapman, 56, were killed in March 2013 by a woman who was serving a community order and was under the supervision of probation services and known to have the “potential to cause serious harm”. See media coverage.