Our hearts are broken waiting for truth about son’s murder
INQUEST INTO KILLING HALTED FOR SECOND TIME
THE parents of a young dad who was stabbed to death by a violent criminal out on licence say they have been left ‘heartbroken’ after his inquest was put on hold for a second time.
Michael Hoolickin, 27, was knifed five times by Timothy Deakin outside a pub in Middleton after the dad-of-one chastised him for hitting a woman.
At the time, Deakin, 23, had been on licence with 10 conditions attached after he was released from prison, having served half of a four-year and eight-month sentence for biting half a man’s ear off.
A previous hearing in June last year was put on hold so that further investigations could be carried out to determine whether Deakin should have been recalled to prison prior to murdering Mr Hoolickin.
Information only emerged on the second day of the previous inquest that Deakin had been suspected of breaching his licence conditions on numerous occasions by carrying weapons, dealing drugs and spending time with a co-defendant.
As Mr Hoolickin’s inquest resumed, the court was told by Deakin’s probation case manager that she believed the thug should have been recalled months before committing the murder.
Case manager Natalia Atkinson said the threshold for recall in Deakin’s case had been ‘firmly met.’
But as the Heywood hearing entered its second day, Coroner for north Manchester Joanne Kearsley halted the inquest for a second time after new concerns were raised about the way information was communicated between Greater Manchester Police and the Probation Service. Questions about the way GMP’s Spotlight team communicated information and intelligence about offenders to the probation service were raised, requiring ‘further investigation,’ according to Ms Kearsley. She told the court it would be ‘manifestly unfair’ for Greater Manchester Police to answer those questions without the option of legal representation. Mr Hoolickin’s family now face another agonising six-month delay to receive answers about why Deakin was not sent back to prison. Addressing his family, Ms Kearsley said: “I know that it is with a heavy heart that you recognise the need for an adjournment and this is not how you wanted to be concluding matters today. “There may be further evidence and the last thing that you want is to leave here feeling that we have not fully explored this. “It is not an easy decision but I am going to adjourn this inquest today to carry out further investigations. “If we do this, we do this fully.” Timothy Deakin was released from prison in February 2016, and was subject to ten conditions – including that he stay in a hostel for newly-released offenders and abide by a curfew – as well as agreeing to further drug testing. His risk of re-offending was deemed ‘very high,’ with a 90 per cent chance of Deakin committing another offence Michael Hoolickin with his son Ellis within 24 months, the court was previously told.
Deakin’s case manager, Natalia Atkinson, described him as someone who was ‘effectively lawless,’ often displaying ‘feral’ and ‘animalistic’ behaviour.
She told the court she was aware of a number of ‘low risk’ breaches on Deakin’s record, but in June 2016, police relayed ‘intelligence’ that Deakin had been seen carrying weapons and spending time with a previous codefendant.
The court heard that the issue of ‘intelligence’ had been a grey area within the probation service, with differing views on how much weight to attach to intelligence about an offender, as opposed to an arrest or charge.
Despite claims from Ms Atkinson that she escalated her growing concerns about Deakin’s risk of harm to a number of senior probation officers, a decision to recall him to prison was never made.
After eight months at large, in October 2016, Deakin went on to murder Michael Hoolickin.
Hearing news of the further delay, Mr Hoolickin’s parents - who have attended every court hearing - said they were ‘absolutely heartbroken.’
Speaking to the M.E.N., they said: “We are absolutely heartbroken that the inquest has to be adjourned for a second time but we have only ever wanted the highest scrutiny and accountability for Michael’s death.
“While it will be difficult for us as a family to continue to wait for the investigation to be completed, our main priority is to ensure that this will not happen to anyone else.”
Timothy Deakin is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum of 27 years after he was convicted of Mr Hoolickin’s murder by a jury in 2017. The inquest will resume for the second time on July 22. Killer Timothy Deakin was out of prison on licence
Michael Hoolickin’s parents Garry and Lesley