The Murder of Daniel Thomas: Nobody came, nobody cared……..

Editorial Comment

FOR TWO weeks, Priscilla Scamp sat in the dock of Chelmsford Crown Court. With just a prison guard for company, she sat, fairly impassively, for the two weeks. Her only display of emotion came when a line from one of her letters was read out: “All I want is my mother.” At that point, Priscilla burst into tears.

In many ways, it could be described as the Eleanor Rigby murder trial. Nobody came………the public gallery lay empty for the whole trial apart from Essex Police and a YourThurrock reporter.

Not one member of her family turned up. Not one witness was called in her defence. Not one statement read out in support. At times, Priscilla stared out to the gallery door as if she was hoping, maybe one person, just one, would come in. There is no doubt that this child was looking for its mother.

Some of her friends gave evidence via video link, other witnesses came accompanied by a police escort. Maybe they all knew she was as they say: “A wrong ‘un” and airbrushed her from their lives.

Women who kill still hold a certain fascination for us all for one reason or another (Myra Hindley, Tracie Andrews or Aileen Wournos). For Priscilla, there has been very little coverage.

It is the story that people don’t really want to know about. It may make page 32 of Chat magazine but we don’t have a blonde blue eyed girl staring out at us; we don’t have grieving parents, we just have a blank staring girl. As one journo said: “The story is just too scummy.”

Priscilla Scamp is one of Thurrock’s NEETS: Neither in education, employment or training.

We know little of Priscilla’s life. Brought up on the Garrison estate in Purfleet but also spending time in Kent. Her educational career didn’t last long as she spent a short time at Purfleet primary and even shorter bouts at (what was then) Aveley comprehensive, Ockendon school and the Pupil Referral Unit.

From the age of sixteen, she was booted out of her own home and living in a shed in the street in River Court, Purfleet. Then onto the homeless hostel at Charles Street. For while she stayed at the home of a (then) friend until she was thrown out on suspicion of stealing. Then she came across Daniel Thomas and his flat in Darnley Road.

The narrative of daily life as read out in court for Priscilla was depressing. There were no witty asides, no “Shameless satire”. Priscilla was no Morven Callar. It was a tale of skunk, whizz, sniff, puff, mandrax, white lightning, breezers, wine, fags.

She was pregnant twice before the age of eighteen and miscarried.

It was a tale of people whose self esteem is and was so staggeringly low. Who spent their time in each others flats one minute with “love you babe: and the next minute at each others’ throats.

Please don’t get us wrong: we shed no tears over Priscilla. It may well be that she made a cold blooded decision to slit the throat ten times and murder a man who had offered her a roof over her head, who fed her, who clothed her and gave her money. Kill him, take bank card, take half kilo of cannabis, take half kilo of cocaine, move to Kent, start afresh?

This was the woman who was prepared to blame someone else for the murder; who fabricated baby scans, who lied and lied and lied. She refused to give testimony. Instead, all we were left with were transcripts of five days of interrogation where she came across as like “Vicky Pollard on a murder charge.”

A failure of the authorities? That’s another argument and another article which YourThurrock will exploring that. With Priscilla, it seemed that the education authorities did their best. One former headteacher, in private, spoke favourably of Priscilla and indeed, there were moments, in her evidence, that the barely literate Priscilla showed herself to be articulate.

For now, Priscilla languishes in Holloway. Ironically, now that she is in Holloway, the Neet may get an education, employment and training. It depends which version of prison life you care to believe.

As for Mr Thomas: Daniel or Danny or Dave. We found out little about his fifty nine years. He was described by police as a vulnerable person. Many witnesses agreed with that and many did not.

The court heard that he had five previous convictions for sexual offences with girls under the age of eighteen. He had multiple convictions for drug possession. He was a supplier of cannabis and cocaine to the young people in the Grays area with stocks of half a kilo of cannabis and half a kilo of cocaine seen in his flat. One witness spoke about how Mr Thomas set about him with a hammer as he suspected he had stolen his drugs. Others simply expressed their concern about his conduct around the girls.

Others described “Dave” as just a nice guy, who would give you a room, give you some food and listen. They felt safe there and trusted him.

Either way, the poor man did not deserve to die. That’s not in question. The question is: Could this death have been prevented? Was their a failure by the authorities to protect these two people?

YourThurrock sat through all eleven days of the trial. The evidence from the authorities has led to a number of questions being asked. Tomorrow we will reveal those questions as we ascertain whether or not the murder of Daniel Thomas and the ruined life of Priscilla Scamp could have been prevented.

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