Northern Ireland news

Inquest: Co Antrim murderer out on licence when he killed a second time

Quyen Ngoc Nguyen (28) was murdered by William McFall and Stephen Unwin. Picture supplied by Northumbria Police/PA Wire

AN inquest into the death of a young mother who was tortured and killed by a Co Antrim convicted murderer and his accomplice has found that failings by police and probation service "possibly contributed" to her death.

William McFall (52), who was originally from Greencastle but had been living in Blackpool, was given a whole-life sentence last year for the murder of Vietnamese woman Quyen Ngoc Nguyen (28).

Three months ago he lost an appeal against the sentence, meaning he will never be released from prison.

McFall and his accomplice Stephen Unwin murdered the young nail technician in a four-hour ordeal on Wearside in England in August 2017.

The pair lured Ms Ngoc Nguyen's to Unwin's house where she was raped by Unwin, and then brutally attacked before being dumped in a car which was set alight.

At the time, both men were out on life licence after previously committing separate murders.

McFall and Unwin had met in prison in Northern Ireland, where McFall was serving a sentence for murdering pensioner Martha Gilmore in 1996.

She disturbed him after he broke into her Carrickfergus home, where he attacked her and hit her repeatedly with a hammer.

At McFall's appeal in March, the judge said he was a previously convicted killer, who was capable of "monstrous" acts and who was "chillingly devoid of any human empathy".

Yesterday, Coroner Winter said failings by the probation service and police to share information with each other about breaches of licence conditions may have prevented the effective monitoring of the men.

He said: "The perpetrators of her murder were subject to life licence conditions, the known breaches of which 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."

The inquest heard that Northumbria Police recorded 26 'items of intelligence' on Unwin, of Houghton-le-Spring, between his release from jail on December 20, 2012 and the murder of Ms Ngoc Nguyen more than four years later.

Among these was an incident on July 2 2017, when a caller said Unwin had sent her a Facebook audio message threatening to "smash her jaw in" and take turns with another man to rape her.

The court heard that information on this incident was not passed to the probation service, and the woman who reported it did not take the complaint any further.

Witnesses said Northumbria Police introduced a new measure in April 2015 whereby 'flags' - meaning items of intelligence - that appeared on the record of prisoners released on life licence would not automatically be passed to probation officials.

The change, designed to reduce workload, meant investigating officers had to pass on the intelligence themselves.

The coroner added that the inquest had highlighted that "the probation service in Sunderland had staffing and accommodation problems" in the time between the release of the men and the murder.

Outside the coroner's court Ms Ngoc Nguyen's sister Quynh said the police and probation service "should have carried out procedures more strictly and earlier" to prevent her sibling's death.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: