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Naomi Bryant 'was murdered by violent sex attacker' in Winchester
1:50pm Monday 22nd February 2010 in News
A WINCHESTER woman was murdered by a violent sex attacker who had been released from prison just nine months earlier, an inquest was told today.
The hearing at Winchester Crown Court into the death of multiple sclerosis sufferer Naomi Bryant, 40, was taking place almost five years after she was strangled and stabbed to death by Anthony Rice, 48, at her home.
He was on licence at the Elderfield probation hostel in Otterbourne, when he killed the mother of one after they met in Winchester, the inquest was told.
Rice had been freed nine months earlier after serving 15 years of a 10-year minimum term imposed at the Old Bailey in 1989 for attempted rape.
Central Hampshire Coroner Grahame Short told the jury that the cause of Ms Bryant's death had been murder but the inquest, which is expected to last up to three weeks, would look into the issues surrounding the killing.
He explained that the hearing would take evidence from police, probation and prison service representatives looking at Rice's release from prison and management in the community.
He said: ''We will be looking beyond the immediate case and at the broader circumstances in which she died.
''We will be looking at what the various authorities did or did not do to protect the public and in particular Naomi Bryant.''
He added: ''This inquest is not straightforward but it is emotive. Naomi Bryant left a daughter aged 14 without a mother and her own mother lost a child.
''They will have been devastated by her death and you will feel great sympathy for them.
''You may feel revulsion at some of the evidence, you will hear evidence of a violent and sexual nature, however your duty is to find the facts and reach a conclusion.''
The inquest was told that a post mortem examination showed that Ms Bryant had been stabbed 15 times to the chest and once to the neck and had been strangled with a ligature with the cause of death being pressure to the neck and multiple stab wounds.
A critical report by chief inspector of probation Andrew Bridges released in 2006 found that there were ''substantial deficiencies'' in supervision by probation and other officials in Hampshire.
He concluded that officials were sidetracked by considering Rice's human rights above their duty to the public.
Two parole requests were refused before he was released in November 2004, having served nearly 16 years.
The Parole Board concluded he presented only a ''minimal risk''.
The report said the 2001 decision by the board to move him to an open prison created a ''momentum towards release''.
When the decision to free him was made the board ''gave insufficient weight to the underlying nature of his risk of harm to others''.
Rice was then put under the supervision of the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa) - designed to manage violent offenders in England and Wales.