Theodore Johnson – Why was he free to kill again?

At the start of this month, Theodore Johnson (64) pleaded guilty to murdering his former partner, Ms Angela Best (51), at her home on 15th December 2016 by beating her with a claw hammer and throttling her with a dressing gown cord.  Mr Johnson’s motive for the crime was that his ex-partner had met another man, shortly after the end of their relationship.

Only hours after killing Ms Best, Mr Johnson threw himself in front of a train. He survived, but lost his right arm and left hand.

Ms Best’s body was only discovered when the Police attended at Mr Johnson’s flat to find his next of kin after the incident at Cheshunt Railway Station, resulting in Mr Johnson’s injuries.

Mr Johnson, following his guilty plea, has been sent to prison for a minimum term of 26 years.

He had already previously been convicted twice for manslaughter. Once in 1981, after pushing his wife off a ninth-floor balcony, and also in 1993, for strangling a former partner.

For the offence in 1981, Mr Johnson was jailed for three years following a manslaughter conviction. In 1993 Mr Johnson entered a guilty plea in respect of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility for strangling his former partner.  He was sentenced to an indefinite stay in a secure hospital, but released after a period of approximately 18 months.  The release was on the basis that he agree to supervision in the community, with a condition that he inform doctors and social workers if he formed any new relationships, which he repeatedly failed to comply with.

The decision to release Mr Johnson from the secure hospital was made on 30th October 1997, by which time he had effectively been in a relationship with Ms Best for approximately a year during periods of unescorted release from secure accommodation.

During Mr Johnson’s relationship with Ms Best he had been controlling and abusive towards her and had punched her on more than one occasion.

Following the end of the relationship in September 2016 Mr Johnson continued to declare his undying love for her on a daily basis. On 15th December 2016 Ms Best went to Mr Johnson’s home to assist him with an appointment with the Jamaican Embassy.  A short while after her arrival, Mr Johnson brutally attacked Ms Best, resulting in her death.  The Prosecution case was that even though the couple had been separated for several months, Mr Johnson murdered Ms Best because she was no longer prepared to be in a relationship with him.

Julian Hendy of the organisation Hundred Families, who provide practical information for families affected by mental health homicides in Britain, has called for an urgent review into how Mr Johnson was able to murder Ms Best, following his convictions for having killed two former partners.

It is notable that Mr Johnson was described as controlling and abusive towards Ms Best and he had also subjected her to domestic violence and abuse, ending up with an escalation in his behaviour, resulting in him murdering her.

If you or anyone you know has been subjected to any form of domestic violence and abuse and you require advice and assistance as to how to protect yourself and/or your children, do not hesitate to contact the Domestic Violence and Abuse Department (DVAD) at Emery Johnson Astills, either by phoning 0116 255 4855, or by emailing DVAD@johnsonastills.com in order that we can provide advice as to whether you may be eligible for Legal Aid.

A specially trained member of staff in the DVAD of Emery Johnson Astills will be able to provide advice as to what measures you can take to protect yourself and your child(ren).