Head’s Widow Asked To Apologise To Killer

BBC News, May 27, 2006

The widow of head teacher Philip Lawrence has described her “extreme upset” at being asked to apologise to his teenage killer.

Frances Lawrence, 51, told how a probation officer rang her at home and said that Learco Chindamo had become upset after she criticised him for his lack of remorse.

Mrs Lawrence, a mother of four, said the officer claimed an apology would make Chindamo “feel happier” when he came before a panel which was deciding whether his life sentence should be cut.

Chindamo was 15 when he stabbed Mr Lawrence to death as he defended a pupil outside St George’s Roman Catholic School in Maida Vale, west London in December 1995.

Mrs Lawrence had criticised the youth in several television programmes, but it was unclear which one had upset him.

Mrs Lawrence said of the probation officer’s call: “She left a message on the answering machine for my children to hear, which I was not happy about at all.

“She was direct and very cross with me on the phone.”

Mrs Lawrence said: “I was very shocked after I heard the whole thing and it was very surreal.

“She said it was because he [Chindamo] would be very upset at his ‘lifer board’.”

She added: “I was shocked and I said that I was not going to say anything to her and would take the matter further, which I did.”

Appeal refused

A Home Office spokesman said: “The National Probation Service places great importance on its duty to victims.

“However this contact which took place over six months ago was entirely inappropriate.

“The chief probation officer of the area concerned and a representative of the National Probation Service have since visited Mrs Lawrence to apologise for this mistake.

“An internal investigation was conducted and appropriate action was taken with regard to the officer concerned.”

Chindamo, a member of a gang of youths, was convicted of the killing at the Old Bailey in 1996 and jailed for life.

Last year an attempt to have his minimum sentence cut from 12 years was turned down.

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