Couple’s murder in Trusthorpe sparks government re-think

Joan and John Stirland. (Image supplied.
Joan and John Stirland. (Image supplied.

The gangland murder of a couple living in Trusthorpe in 2004 has inspired a government re-think into the way witnesses are protected.

New Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Helen Newlove has been recently appointed to ensure victims’ and witnesses’ voices are brought to the heart of government, making sure their needs are championed and that the government is delivering on its commitments.

Joan and John Stirland moved to Trusthorpe in 2004 after they were targeted by gunmen at their Nottingham home, forcing them to flee from all they knew.

Notorious crime boss, Colin Gunn, ordered the fatal shootings of the Stirlands, which was believed to be undertaken as revenge for the murder of a friend of Gunn’s nephew, Jamie Gunn, committed by Mrs Stirland’s son Michael O’Brien.

At their inquests coroner Karon Monoghan called for rigorous reviews into the way volunerable witnesses are protected.

At the time of the Stirlands’ death nine years ago, it was reported that Lincolnshire Police and Nottinghamshire Police failed in their lack of communication with each other regarding the Stirlands protection and crucial intelligence about the danger posed by Gunn’s gang.

Whilst in her position, Baroness Newlove aims to engage with victims and witness groups, local and national leaders and criminal justice agencies to build up a picture of the current experience for victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system.

She will also advise the government on views from victims and witnesses on existing good practice in the CJS and areas for future work.

Baroness Newlove will also contribute to the government’s revision of the Victims’ Code to ensure that the new version provides much greater clarity to victims on their entitlements from a range of criminal justice agencies.