Peer backs mum's fight for justice over daughter's death

Jennifer Finnigan is continuing her fight for justice over daughter Gemma's death.
Jennifer Finnigan is continuing her fight for justice over daughter Gemma's death.
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A mother's fight for justice over the death of her beloved daughter has stepped up a gear as she receives backing from a peer and a national charity.

Jennifer Finnigan was left devastated when she discovered her 24-year-old daughter Gemma had been killed in a brutal attack by her partner at the home they shared in Boldon Colliery.

Gemma Finnigan

Gemma Finnigan

However, her grief was compounded further when the full extent of Daniel Johnson's murderous past was revealed as he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court over her manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Johnson had been on life licence when he had met Gemma following his conviction of murder at the age of 15.

Her mum says she was never told the full extent of his previous killing and was led to believe it had been a schoolboy fight that had gone wrong - something the Ministry of Justice refutes.

And it is this, as well as a number of failings following a report into the input of agencies in the run up to Johnson taking Gemma's life in September 2013 which has led Jennifer on a campaign for justice.

Johnson, 32, was sentenced for life with the judge ordering he serves at least 20 years before he is eligible for parole.

Yesterday, that fight led her travelling to London where she met with representatives from national domestic violence charity Refuge and Victim's Commissioner Baroness Helen Newlove.

The visit has now led to a solicitor being appointed to delve further into the failings of agencies involved in the case, a future meeting with a government minister to highlight the concerns of the family over lack of communication between agencies which should have protected Gemma and the possibility of an inquest being opened into her death.

Ms Finnigan said: "Going down to London was so nerve-wracking but being able to talk about Gemma's case and why I believe she was let down, and have people believe me and understand where I am coming from, you just really can't describe it.

"The charity has appointed a solicitor for me, they were really helpful. They had read the reports and they were seeing what I was seeing, Gemma had been let down by those agencies who should have been protecting her.

"The Baroness was lovely too. What she wants is to see if can open an inquest and to look at Gemma's "right to life."

"I just feel like I am finally getting somewhere. She knew exactly what I was going through and the things I felt, it was like she felt the same.

"She is wanting to put questions the home office and to try and get answers to some of the questions I still have.

"There are so many different areas to this and she has told me to keep on fighting and if I get knocked back to get back up and start again.

"It's so nice to know the Baroness is supporting me."

Ms Finnigan is now awaiting contact from the solicitor appointed to help her and the Baroness as to when the meeting with the government minister will take place.

She added: "Right now it is a waiting game but I am in a much better place than I was. But finally I feel as though someone is listening to me.

"Sharon, who has known Gemma since she was little, has been amazing. She has really kept me going, without her I don't think I would have come as far as I have.

"It is hard but I know Gemma was let down and I deserve an apology. It's not going to bring Gemma back but I need to know the agencies who have let her down have taken responsibility for their part in her death and that it won't happen again to another family.

"As the charity pointed out, they didn't just let Gemma down and hard as it is to accept but they also let him down as well. They weren't monitoring his drug use or his failure to cope out of prison. They failed to listen and act as they should have when Gemma was concerned over how he was behaving.

"They knew he had issues but they not only failed to protect my daughter, they took my right as a mother to protect her daughter away from me too."

An online petition calling for a public inquiry into her death has been launched. To sign the petition visit https://www.change.org/organizations/justice_for_gemma