UK serial killer who ‘played the system’ to die in jail after...

UK serial killer who ‘played the system’ to die in jail after admitting murder

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Murder, Theodore Johnson, London
Theodore Johnson

An “evil” serial wife killer in the UK who met his third victim while on day release from a secure mental hospital will die in jail.

Theodore Johnson, 64, was convicted of the manslaughter of two partners in the 1980s and ’90s but spent the next 15 years lying to authorities and concealing his past from his new partner Angela Best.

The mother-of-four and grandmother only found out he had killed before when she came across letters at his home and confronted him.

When she left him for another man, he attacked the 51-year-old, beating her over the head with a claw hammer and throttling her with the belt from her leopard print dressing gown.
He then jumped in front of an express train, but survived.

Wheelchair-bound Johnson pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to murdering Ms Best on December 15 2016, and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years.

Judge Richard Marks QC said: “The attack by you on Angela Best was sustained, vicious and utterly brutal. She suffered an unimaginably terrible death.”

His crime was aggravated by the fact it was his third killing of a female partner and that he repeatedly lied to authorities who were monitoring him in the community.

Judge Marks said: “Such repeated offending, resulting in three separate court cases, must be almost unprecedented.”

Afterwards, Ms Best’s sister Lorraine Jones accused Johnson of attempting to “play the system” to get away with murder.

She said: “This convicted murderer tried to play the system as he has successfully done before.

“He used diminished responsibility as the cause for his murderous actions.

“This time, however, he has eventually pleaded guilty to murder after 12 months since his arrest and subjecting our family to unnecessary additional trauma.

“He has shown in all cases he was clearly of sound mind. He knew what he was doing when he planned and executed the horrific murder of our beloved Angela.”

Best Family, Murder, London, Theodore Johnson
Valerie Archibold (left) and Lorraine Jones (second left), the sisters of Angela Best, and Angela’s mother Josephine (right), speak to the media outside the Old Bailey, London

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC had told how Johnson had a violent history towards the women in his life, having been convicted of manslaughter twice before.

In 1981, he was was found guilty by reason of “provocation” of killing his wife Yvonne Johnson by pushing her off the ninth-floor balcony of their home in Wolverhampton.

Then, in 1993, a couple of years before meeting Ms Best, he was convicted of strangling his common law wife Yvonne Bennett with a belt at their home in London before trying to hang himself.

The prosecution accepted his responsibility was diminished due to depression and a personality disorder and he was handed a hospital order with restrictions at the Old Bailey.

In September 1994, Johnson was allowed out of his psychiatric unit for the first time on escorted community parole.

In mid-1995, he was given unescorted leave to spend two days a week at a City and Guilds course on furniture restoration.

It was there in 1996 that he met Ms Best, who had moved to Tottenham, north London, from Manchester.

He was let out by a mental health tribunal in October 1997 on condition he tell supervising doctors and social workers if he formed any new relationships, which he repeatedly failed to do, even though he had already been seeing Ms Best for a year.

The court heard that during a home visit, authorities spotted a “feminine wood carving” spelling out “Love” on the mantelpiece but alarm bells were not raised.

Jamaican national Johnson was last seen by a social worker and psychiatrist on December 8 2016, days before the murder, and was not found to be depressed and continued to deny being in a relationship.

He had an appointment two days before Ms Best’s murder but it was put off because his social worker was sick.

During their relationship, Johnson had been abusive and “controlling” and had punched her at least once, the court heard.

In September 2016, the couple split up and Ms Best was said to be the “happiest” she had ever been with her new love even though Johnson continued to profess his “undying love daily”.

Angela Best, Serial Killer
Angela Best

On the morning of December 15 2016, Ms Best had gone to Johnson’s home to help with an appointment with the Jamaican embassy.

Mr Heywood said: “Soon afterwards he attacked her. That attack was brutal and merciless. He struck her repeatedly around the head even as she tried to protect her head with her hands.

“He then tied a dressing gown cord around her head and knotted it.

“He did it, the prosecution say, for a simple reason, because after all that time that had gone before she was no longer prepared to stay with him.”

After killing Ms Best, Johnson was seen to topple forward into the path on the oncoming 3.18pm express service, severing both arms.

When officers went to his flat, Ms Best’s body was discovered on the floor of the living room, near a bloodstained claw hammer.

A post-mortem examination found she had suffered at least six blows to the head with the hammer and been strangled.

Mr Heywood said Johnson was born in Jamaica and came to Britain in 1980 and worked at a car repairer’s, shortly before killing his first wife in 1981.

Mitigating for Johnson, Annette Henry QC said her client was likely to die behind bars.
She said: “He does not wish to be alive. He hates himself for what happened. We recognise the devastation felt by the family members.”

She said the mental health tribunal’s condition on Johnson’s release was flawed as it relied on “self reporting” any new relationship.

She said: “This was a dilemma and the tribunal found it was fraught with difficulty in trying to monitor.”

After being sentenced, Johnson made to stand up to leave the dock, but became shaky, sat down again and was wheeled out of court.

Camden and Islington NHS Trust, which was responsible for Johnson’s care in the community since 2004, said in a statement: “We would like to offer our heartfelt condolences once again to the family of Ms Best for their appalling loss.

“We will be inviting them to meet us, should they wish to do so, to discuss the findings of the Trust’s own independently-chaired incident report.”

Detective Sergeant Danny Yeoman, of Scotland Yard, said: “We would like to offer our heartfelt condolences once again to the family of Ms Best for their appalling loss.

“We will be inviting them to meet us, should they wish to do so, to discuss the findings of the Trust’s own independently-chaired incident report.”

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