Drug addict set mother-in-law on fire after police ‘failed to deal with his violent behaviour’
Police have been forced to apologise after a drug addict fatally set his mother-in-law on fire despite having a history of threatening violence.
Kieren Lynch, 50, was arrested and bailed after threatening to kill his former partner, Susan Lynch, and attacking her home with a hammer.
But he continued to contact her, with his campaign of abuse culminating in him fatally attacking Susan’s mother Jennifer Cronin, 72, on March 13.
He burst into her garden and doused both her and himself in flammable liquid before setting it alight.
Ms Cronin suffered burns to 33% of her body and passed away 17 days later.
Lynch died on the day of the attack after suffering burns to 96% of his body.
Essex Police were hunting him on the morning of the attack after failing to lock him up, despite him repeatedly breaking his bail conditions by bombarding the family with calls and messages.
An inquest into Ms Cronin’s death found there had been failings by Essex Police prior to the horrific incident, with Kieren’s increasingly violent behaviour not being prevented.
The jury concluded that Mrs Cronin had been unlawfully killed during the incident at her home in Benfleet, Essex, and Lynch had died by suicide.
Speaking on Friday after the five-day inquest, Susan said she was ‘very pleased’ with the jury’s verdict.
The mum-of-two said: ‘It’s been a horrific year really – to be pushed from pillar to post and we’ve felt all along that we weren’t being listened to and things weren’t being done as they should be and now that result means we can see it in black and white.
‘We were ringing all the time and trying to find out Kieren’s whereabouts.
‘We tried our hardest to get them the police to sit up and notice but couldn’t understand why nothing was being done.’
During the inquest, the court heard how Lynch’s 30-year marriage to Susan broke down due to cocaine abuse, and that he carried out a campaign of harassment in the lead up to the attack.
Assistant coroner Tina Harrington concluded there had been a failure to pursue and arrest Lynch after he breached his bail conditions and a failure to record potential offences committed while he was on bail.
Mrs Lynch added: ‘I would hope the police have learnt from those mistakes. It doesn’t bring my mum back or their dad but things definitely need to be looked at.’
Essex Police have now issued a formal apology to the family.
Det Ch Supt Steve Worron said: ‘I would like to offer my condolences to the families of Jennifer Cronin and Kieren Lynch during this difficult time.
‘No officer goes out on their daily business looking to let victims down but in this case we could have kept Mrs Cronin safer and we apologise for that.’
He added that the force is taking action to address the issues that were brought up in the inquest, and the case has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.