he killer of a former Wasps rugby player could be granted day release less than two years after he was sentenced – prompting the victim’s family to ask: “How will anyone be safe?”
Allan Isichei, 69, was stabbed to death by Gurjeet Lall, 38, on his way back from his local pub, yards from the home he shared with his wife, Sandra, in Southall, west London, in August 2019.
The father-of-three, who had five grandchildren, was a prop for Wasps during the 1970s and 1980s, and played nearly 200 games for the club’s first XV.
Schizophrenic Lall was cleared of Mr Isichei’s murder but found guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility at Inner London Crown Court and detained indefinitely under section 37 of the Mental Health Act in December 2020.
The trial heard he had been arrested for possession of a knife in 2014 and 2019 and Mr Isichei’s family have called for an inquiry into why Lall was free to kill just months after he was arrested for carrying a knife.
Attorney General Michael Ellis asked appeal judges to consider the case and argued the sentence was unduly lenient, saying Lall should have been given a life prison term – with an order allowing him to be detained in a hospital.
However, Lord Justice Bean, Mrs Justice Lambert and Mr Justice Calver ruled against Mr Ellis, but said there is no dispute that Lall “was and remains dangerous”.
Now the prison and probation service has told Mr Isichei’s family the Ministry of Justice has been asked by the hospital where Lall is being detained to grant him escorted leave.
The email, seen by the PA news agency, says that, if granted, he will initially be allowed out for an hour a week, “with progression to additional hours, thereafter” but will “at all times” be “escorted by a member of staff”.
“The offender can eventually progress to unescorted leave. However, a further application to the MoJ will need to be made,” it says.
Mr Isichei’s family branded the application an “absolute insult” and said it was “another example of the way the probation and justice service is unable to function correctly”.
His son, Daniel, said: “It is absolutely shocking that someone can be released back into the community after such a short space of time. How is this right?
“We warned that the dangers of this unduly lenient sentence would have repercussions and we now are seeing them.”
The email from the prison service says Lall will be risk assessed on the morning of any planned leave and that it will be cancelled if there is any indication his mental state is not at the level expected.
Mr Isichei’s family have been told he is currently complying with the hospital regime and taking his medication.
“Whilst we appreciate that this case does have complications arising from Lall’s previous mental health issues, we have always said the sentencing was too lenient,” said Daniel.
“He has clearly ‘played the game’, as he has before. This has been proved right as he will now be released – how will anyone be safe?
“We ask ourselves that if our father was not a black man would this case have been judged in the same way?
“In comparison with other cases this appears to be the case. How can we live in a country that claims it has a rule of law but this only applies to some and not others?”
The MoJ said any application, which can be vetoed by Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis on public safety grounds, would have been made to its mental health and casework section and that the only role of the probation service is to act as victim liaison.
Mr Isichei had drunk a single bottle of beer at the Plough Inn before making his way home at about 6.30pm on August 24 2019 when he was stabbed by Lall.
Lall told jurors he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but could not remember the last time he took his medication.