After 5 years of pain and upset, I will not give up the crusade to see justice for Terry Radford’s family

The death of Terrance Radford in April 2019 was a tragedy, which should never have happened. His death reflects a point of failure within our prison system that was entirely preventable. Had his killer, Gavin Collins, remained in prison then Terrance would still be here today.

On 19th April 2019, Terrance was run over and killed by Gavin Collins, who had recently been released from prison. Terrance was simply going about his business in Mansfield Woodhouse and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, when Collins was on his rampage.

I believe that prison offers two fundamental things that hopefully prevent re-offending. It should firstly serve as punishment so that individuals face the consequences for their crimes, but it should also provide an opportunity for those applicable, to reform and rehabilitate, so that once they are released back into society, they are able to contribute as decent, law-abiding citizens. In Collin’s case, this did not happen. The behaviour he displayed in prison, which included setting fire to his cell and assaulting a prison officer with a plastic knife, whilst serving a three-year sentence for a crime he committed in 2018, clearly illustrates that prison did nothing to reform Collins. I think it is reasonable therefore to conclude that he should never have been eligible for early release and that he clearly posed a risk to others. I will continue to remain dumbfounded that anyone believed that this man was suitable to be placed under a Home Detention Curfew.

We should not forget the man at the heart of this story and that is Terrance, known as Terry, who was a much-loved father and grandfather, greatly valued by his local community. He was a true, salt of the earth character.

Governors Archer, Cope and Fretwell, who approved of Collins’ early release, clearly contributed to the death of an innocent man. Their actions allowed for a dangerous man to be back on our streets and set the groundwork for Terry’s death. Terry’s family attended the inquest into the governors’ behaviour every day and had to hear them cover up for their actions, yet they are still suffering now and unable to receive closure on such a horrific event, because they are not allowed to know whether the governors still hold posts within the Prison Service.

As many will know, I have always believed in a strong sense of law and order. The concept of justice and what that means for victims is very important to me, which is why Terry’s case hit home. We should all feel safe in the knowledge that wrongdoers are punished, and innocent people are vindicated, yet Terry’s case proves that sadly this doesn’t always come to pass.

Last week, I held a debate in Westminster Hall to discuss the Terrance Radford Prevention of Future Deaths Report. I put the case to Edward Argar MP, Minister for Prisons, Parole and Probation that Terry’s death was entirely avoidable and that due to the careless actions of the governors at HMP Ranby, Collins was able to commit a series of crimes.

I invited the Radford family to attend the debate so that they could hear what the Minister had to say. I asked the Minister to make clear to the family what has happened to the governors responsible, so that they are able to seek closure from this awful turn of events. It was important to me that the Minister was able to see the family in person to fully appreciate the impact that Terry’s death has had.

Minister Argar accepted that there had been failings in the Home Detention Curfew and set out a series of changes that have been implemented by the Ministry of Justice, to prevent future cases like this, which I certainly welcome, but this does not go far enough. I am angry that he was unable to inform us of the details of the disciplinary proceedings, as apparently this would be a breach of the law. This is why I will continue to maintain this is what Terry’s family and others like them need.

The families of those that are killed are always left suffering with the pain of loss many years after their loved one pass. Whilst it is impossible to bring Terry back, it is possible to deliver justice for the family and try to prevent such wrongdoings from happening again. I know that for the Radford family closure will be tangible once they are aware of what punitive actions the governors faced and whether they still hold jobs within the Prison Service. I do not believe what they are asking for is unreasonable. I fully sympathise with those with the desire to know that culprits have been appropriately reprimanded. I think anyone with a sense of justice will also share this view.

The questions that I am left with, and I am sure many others are, is why more wasn’t done to recognise the unstable behaviour that Collins displayed in the lead up to Terry’s death and why Nottinghamshire Police did not take it upon themselves to investigate the governors at HMP Ranby.

I will make no bones about the fact that Governors Archer, Cope and Fretwell should be sacked from their jobs and unable to ever serve in the Prison Service again.

After 5 years of pain and upset, I hope Terry’s family will receive the justice that they deserve and that they are finally afforded the chance to grieve the man they loved so dearly.

Lee Anderson MP

Lee Anderson is the Reform UK MP for Ashfield, and was elected in 2019.