MP demands probe into why 'dangerous' man was free to attack Sheffield woman

Donna Vincent
Donna Vincent
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A Sheffield MP has called for a Ministry of Justice investigation into why a 'dangerous' man was free to roam the streets and sexually assault a woman - despite being known to the authorities.

Clive Betts called for the probe after Donna Vincent, aged 45, waived her right to anonymity to discuss her ordeal at the hands of 27-year-old Patrick Munnelly, of Ivy Drive, Crookesmoor.

Mr Betts claims Munnelly was known to the authorities and under supervision as part of a Ministry of Justice Order when he targeted Donna as she walked her dog in fields off Grange Lane, Handsworth, last May.

He was under supervision in the community following a decision by a Mental Health Tribunal.

Munnelly pleaded guilty to sexual assault and was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order, but Mr Betts has written to Justice Secretary Liz Truss to demand an investigation into the case.

"It was made known publicly at the sentencing hearing that the attacker is an extremely dangerous individual already known to the authorities and who was under a Ministry of Justice Order at the time of the attack," said Mr Betts.

"Therefore, I have now written to the Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, asking her to commission a full investigation into the circumstances, considerations and decision-making which led to this extremely dangerous man being allowed to roam free to pursue his next victim.”

Munnelly's victim, Donna, said she fears she could have been killed in the attack.

She said Munnelly ran at her and tried to force her to the ground before hitting her in the face and around the head before overpowering her.

It is believed that Donna lost consciousness in the attack and when she woke up she was being dragged by her jeans into a hedgerow.

Her attacker fled after Donna started screaming and her cries were heard by fellow dog walkers, one of whom chased the sex fiend.

“This was a sexually motivated attack but I do actually think I would have been murdered," she said.

“I think that spot was key, if I’d been unconscious in that hedge you could have walked past and not known I was there. Had it been night-time, it would have been the worst possible scenario.

“I was so keen that this man was caught that, even though it was a very traumatic experience, I tried really hard to focus on what happened because I wanted to stop this person and get him off the streets."

Detective Sergeant Anna Sedgwick said: “Even though there wasn’t any evidence at the scene, there were actually numerous other women who reported to us that they’d been followed in the days leading up to the attack.

“Some of those incidents happened in more residential areas so we were able to do a trawl of CCTV cameras, thinking we might have captured the suspect on another occasion. This was a success and we issued a CCTV still to the media and on social media.

“Ultimately, that is how we identified the suspect and without the fantastic community response he may not have been caught as quickly as he was."

Donna urged other victims to speak out.

“There is no shame in what happened to you - the shame belongs to the attacker, not you," she added.

“I don’t like using the word victim because sexual predators prey on this, they will frighten you into silence and into submission. Don’t do that, speak out and you will gain strength from doing this.

“Don’t be afraid to come forward and give as much evidence as you can to track these people down. Ultimately, you’re the one who is going to stop them."

A Ministry of Justice spokeswomn said: "Mental Health Tribunals are independent judicial bodies, responsible for determining whether continued detention and treatment for mental disorder remains necessary.

"Discharged patients are supervised closely by a care team supervised by a responsible clinician and have to adhere to strict conditions to ensure public safety.

"Discharged patients can be recalled immediately if there is a concern they need further treatment or if they pose a risk to the public."