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Outrage Over Inadequate Review of Esther Brown’s Murder by Registered Sex Offender

Esher Brown
Esher Brown

A Missed Opportunity in Esther Brown’s Murder Case Review

In May 2021, 67-year-old pensioner Esther Brown was brutally raped and murdered by registered sex offender Jason Graham in her Woodlands, Glasgow flat. Despite a case review concluding that her death could “not have been predicted or prevented,” a former charity colleague, Tim Cowen, argues that the inquiry represents a “missed opportunity.”

The Anger of Friends and Community Members

Esther Brown, a founding member of the Woodlands Community Garden, was known for her kind heart. Tim Cowen, manager of Woodlands Community Development Trust, expressed the community’s anger, especially after learning about Graham’s previous conviction. He said the report would not “alleviate the anger” among Ms. Brown’s friends.

Jason Graham’s Criminal History and Monitoring

At the time of the attack, Graham was being monitored as a registered sex offender. He had been released on a non-parole licence in June 2018 after being jailed for raping a woman in 2013. Despite being subject to a curfew, the exact restrictions imposed could not be established, and the responsibility for enforcement was unclear between the police and Criminal Justice Social Work services.

The Significant Case Review and Recommendations

The 60-page significant case review includes 11 recommendations, 14 learning points for agencies involved, and seven examples of good practice. However, the review ultimately concluded that the murder was a “spontaneous and opportunistic attack carried out against a stranger.”

Calls for a Wider Examination of the Criminal Justice System

Cowen criticized the report as a “missed opportunity” and urged for a broader investigation into conviction rates, sentencing for sexual and domestic crimes, and the adequacy of funding for protection services. He questioned whether the tragedy could have been prevented if the criminal justice system prioritized women’s safety and took sexual violence more seriously.

Graham’s Troubled Past and Substance Misuse

The report details Graham’s turbulent childhood, witnessing his mother’s suspected suicide at five years old, and his subsequent upbringing by his grandparents. He began using alcohol and cannabis at the age of 10, eventually engaging in criminality and antisocial behavior.

Recommendations and Responses from Agencies

A key recommendation of the report is for the Scottish government to consider alcohol and substance testing for all appropriate licence conditions. The Scottish Prison Service was criticized for ineffective information sharing regarding Graham’s conduct at HMP Glenochil. Meanwhile, the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) and the Scottish government have committed to considering the review’s recommendations and improving their processes.

Moving Forward with Lessons Learned

As the community mourns the loss of Esther Brown, the significant case review’s findings highlight the need for improvements in the criminal justice system and the monitoring of registered sex offenders. It is imperative that agencies work together to learn from this tragedy and take appropriate action to better protect the public in the future.

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