Surrey police apologise over case of Breck Bednar, 14, whose mother had alerted them to concerns about killer Lewis Daynes, 20
14 MARCH 2016 | BY Aisha Gani FOR THE GUARDIAN
The parents of a 14-year-old boy murdered by a man he met online have received a payout after police accepted the case had been seriously mishandled.
Breck Bednar, 14, was murdered in 2014 in a sexually motivated attack by Lewis Daynes, 20, a computer engineer now serving life in prison, who had groomed him on an online gaming forum.
The victim’s parents, Barry Bednar and Lorin LaFave, had launched legal action against Essex and Surrey police forces over their handling of the case.
LaFave, 47, a teaching assistant from Michigan, had grown increasingly concerned that Daynes was manipulating her son, even confronting him online.
She had contacted Surrey police in December 2013 over strong fears that he was being groomed and manipulated by the older man. Despite this report, the family said no action was taken to prevent Daynes carrying out the killing.
Two months later Breck was found with a fatal stab wound to the neck after leaving his home in Caterham, Surrey, by train to meet Daynes at his flat in Grays, Essex, on 17 February.
Serious questions were raised over police handling of the case when it emerged that Daynes had been arrested on suspicion of the rape and sexual assault of a 15-year-old three years before he attacked Breck.
Though these offences were reported to Essex police in 2011, the force decided not to take any action. The offences were reinvestigated only when Daynes was brought in for questioning over Breck’s murder.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) also launched investigations into the two forces, and found the call handler and their supervisor lacked knowledge of dealing with grooming concerns.
Surrey police said they had settled the claim and added a statement that they unreservedly apologised to the family and accepted mistakes had been made.
As part of the settlement, Surrey police said they had agreed to implement recommended changes to their procedures to ensure “that other children like Breck are protected”.
“Mr Bednar and Ms LaFave hope to work with Surrey police in order to enhance awareness of the dangers that young people face online and to ensure that appropriate training is given to staff to assist in the prevention of similar crimes against children,” the statement said.