Murder committed after tag error

A YOUTH who murdered a Suffolk man while under a curfew had not been electronically tagged, court officials admitted last night.

Jane Hunt

A YOUTH who murdered a Suffolk man while under a curfew had not been electronically tagged, court officials admitted last night.

Aaron Breffitt was 16-years-old when he and James Killingback attacked terminally ill father-of-three John Vry in Lowestoft at 10.30pm on December 3, 2008.

Six weeks before the 55-year-old was beaten to death, Breffitt - who had a long history of offending - was given a three-month curfew between 9pm and 7am for assaulting a 53-year-old man.

However, court staff failed to inform monitoring organisation Serco that Breffitt needed to be fitted with an electronic tag so his movements could be tracked.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for HM Courts Service admitted: "The murder was committed during a period when the defendant was subject to an electronic monitored curfew requirement.

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“A full investigation was carried out into why the electronic monitoring company was not notified of the curfew details by North East Suffolk Magistrates' Court.

“The investigation found it was an isolated incident of human error and not a systemic failure. HMCS has taken all possible steps to avoid a recurrence. A member of staff has been disciplined and additional checks have been introduced to ensure that contractors are properly informed of court orders."

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council's Youth Offending Service said: “This is a most distressing case and our thoughts are firmly with the Mr Vry's family.

“Aaron Breffitt now faces a long sentence in custody. While he was in the community, his life was characterised by heavy drinking and unstable living arrangements. The Youth Offending Service worked hard to help him resolve these difficulties and it was his chaotic lifestyle which acted as a barrier to his making any significant improvements.

“Following this case the Youth Offending Service has liaised closely with HM Courts Service to ensure procedures are strengthened and that there is no failing of this kind in the future.”

Breffitt appeared before Lowestoft's youth court on October 22, 2008, where he admitted battery. He had assaulted his victim at a hostel where they were living in the town's London Road South on October 5 that year.

A new supervision order for 18 months was put in place for Breffitt, with a three-month curfew attached.

Killingback, 23, and Breffitt, now aged 17, were found guilty of murdering Mr Vry last year.

During their trial at Ipswich Crown Court, the jury heard Mr Vry, of London Road South, was confronted after leaving a chip shop, dragged into an alleyway and held down while being kicked and punched. He died the following day.

Last week Killingback, of Denmark Road in Lowestoft, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 19 years and Breffitt, of no fixed address, was ordered to serve life in prison with a minimum of 12 years.

At the time of his death, Mr Vry was suffering from terminal bowel cancer and had a life expectancy of three to six months.