The family of a former rugby player who was stabbed to death on his way home have spoken of their devastation that his killer could be given day release calling it an “absolute insult.”
Mr Isichei was just yards from the home he shared with his wife, Sandra, in Southall, west London, when he was stabbed in August 2019.
Schizophrenic Lall was cleared of Mr Isichei’s murder, but found guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility at Inner London Crown Court and detained indefinitely under section 37 of the Mental Health Act in December 2020.
Mr Isichei, a father-of-three, who had five grandchildren, was a prop for Wasps during the 1970s and 1980s, and played nearly 200 games for the club’s first XV.
Lall ‘was and remains dangerous’
The trial heard Lall had been arrested for possession of a knife in 2014 and 2019 and Mr Isichei’s family have called for an inquiry into why Lall was free to kill just months after he was arrested for carrying a knife.
Attorney General Michael Ellis asked appeal judges to consider the case and argued the sentence was unduly lenient, saying Lall should have been given a life prison term – with an order allowing him to be detained in a hospital.
However, Lord Justice Bean, Mrs Justice Lambert and Mr Justice Calver ruled against Mr Ellis, but said there is no dispute that Lall “was and remains dangerous”.
Now the prison and probation service has told Mr Isichei’s family the Ministry of Justice has been asked by the hospital where Lall is being detained to grant him escorted leave.
The email, seen by the PA news agency, says that, if granted, he will initially be allowed out for an hour a week, “with progression to additional hours, thereafter” but will “at all times” be “escorted by a member of staff”.
“The offender can eventually progress to unescorted leave. However, a further application to the MoJ will need to be made,” it says.
Mr Isichei’s family branded the application an “absolute insult” and said they “do not see how this can be seen as justice.”
They said they have struggled to come to terms with what happened and understand why Lall despite having a history of carrying knives was “allowed under no supervision order to be freely able to walk around and stab our father dead.”
They added: “We want to work to ensure that this tragedy which could have been stopped does not happen to anyone else. “
‘The pain of losing my father hasn’t gone away’
Mr Isichei’s son, Daniel, added: “The pain of losing my father hasn’t gone away. It is absolutely shocking that someone can be released back into the community after such a short space of time. How is this right?
“We warned that the dangers of this unduly lenient sentence would have repercussions and we now are seeing them.”
“To release someone even before an independent inquiry (that is looking at what’s gone wrong) has even concluded – is unbelievable and another example of the way the probation / justice service is unable to function correctly.”
The email from the prison service says Lall will be risk assessed on the morning of any planned leave and that it will be cancelled if there is any indication his mental state is not at the level expected.
Mr Isichei’s family have been told he is currently complying with the hospital regime and taking his medication.
“Whilst we appreciate that this case does have complications arising from Lall’s previous mental health issues, we have always said the sentencing was too lenient,” said Daniel.
“He has clearly ‘played the game’, as he has before. This has been proved right as he will now be released – how will anyone be safe?
“We ask ourselves that if our father was not a black man would this case have been judged in the same way?
“In comparison with other cases this appears to be the case. How can we live in a country that claims it has a rule of law but this only applies to some and not others?”
After the verdict Mr Ischei’s family had paid tribute to him calling him one of the kindest, funniest, gentlest, hardworking and loving person you could ever wish to meet.”
Growing up in Queen’s Park he had a love of rugby from a young age. And as well as playing rugby, he also moved into coaching.
Mr Isichei was also a musician and with friends formed The Circle Band in which he played the saxophone.
Applications can be vetoed by Justice Secretary
The MoJ said any application, which can be vetoed by Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis on public safety grounds, would have been made to its mental health and casework section and that the only role of the probation service is to act as victim liaison.
Mr Isichei had drunk a single bottle of beer at the Plough Inn before making his way home at about 6.30pm on 24 August, 2019 when he was stabbed by Lall.
Lall told jurors he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but could not remember the last time he took his medication.