An inquest is to be held into the death of a 'vulnerable' young woman who was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who had been released on licence.

Elizabeth McCann 26, was targeted by Simon Goold, then aged 51 and now 53, after he met her at a college in Tameside. In August last year, he plied her with booze before taking her back to his flat in a taxi, sexually assaulting her en route.

At his flat, he took explicit photos and videos of her and raped her before strangling her to death with her own t-shirt. He rang police to report her death the following morning.

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He initially claimed her death was an accident that occurred during consensual sex but pleaded guilty to her murder, rape, sexual assault, and assault by penetration on the second day of his trial at Manchester Crown Court.

He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years in February this year. The court heard Goold had already been convicted and jailed after inviting a woman into his flat and stabbing her in the leg before raping and sexually assaulting her, in October 2010.

Ms McCann was raped and murdered in August last year

He was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for Public Protection with a minimum term of just under six years for rape, wounding and sexual assault. He was then released in April 2019 and subject to licence for life whilst under the supervision of the probation service.

Ms McCann, who had mental health issues, enrolled at a Health and Wellbeing College in Ashton-under-Lyne, run by the NHS mental health trust Pennine Care, in 2019, which is where Goold is said to have first encountered her.

The crown court heard he messaged Ms McCann on Facebook before meeting up with her in The Star Inn pub in Ashton on August 24, 2022, where he began grooming and giving shots of sambuca to Ms McCann, who was on medication with the alcohol making her sick and eventually rendering her unconscious.

Simon Goold was a convicted sex who had released on licence when she fatally attacked Ms McCann

A coroner has now ruled that despite his conviction and sentence, an inquest into her death should also be held, to look into 'the risk he posed', 'how his risk was assessed at the point of release' and 'why there were no apparent steps taken to the reduce the risk he presented to someone like Elizabeth.'

Alison Mutch said an investigation report was 'very critical in places of the probation service and some of the decisions taken.'

"I am entirely satisfied that the decision to resume the inquest is the correct decision," Senior Coroner Ms Mutch told a Pre-Inquest Review Hearing at South Manchester Coroner's Court in Stockport.

Police investigating a murder after a woman in her 20s was found dead at a property of flats on Manchester Road, Ashton. A 51-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after handing himself into a local police station.
Police at the scene on Manchester Road on August 25 last year

She told lawyers for the agencies - The Probation Service, Pennine Care and Tameside Council - as well as a representative of Ms McCann's parents: "I am sure you are all anxious as I am, to find out how this situation arose."

The hearing, which will last at least five days is due to be held next April. Ms Mutch said 'at the very least' the inquest would explore:

  • 'The circumstances surrounding Mr Goolds incarceration in custody',
  • 'The release of him from custody and the terms of his licence and supervision on release from custody',
  • 'How his level of risk was assessed, then reduced from high to medium risk',
  • 'The level of risk he posed, how he came to be at the college and information sharing with the college' and
  • 'How he came to meet Elizabeth McCann and the events leading up to her tragic death'

However, she said this could change as there are still 'quite a lot of pieces of the jigsaw which are being collected. She requested a statement from a member of GMP's Offender Management Team whom she she said 'also had a role' in his supervision.

The coroner said she had not yet decided whether the hearing would be what is known as an Article 2 inquest. These are hearings where Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to life, is invoked and are enhanced inquests that look into the wider circumstances of somebody's death.

Senior Coroner Alison Mutch outlined the provisional scope of the inquest which will be heard next year

Ms Mutch said she had also not decided if it would be heard before a jury, but that her provisional view was that: "I cannot see any obvious statutory requirement to hold a jury inquest." She said final decisions on these matters would be made at further pre-inquest review hearing next February.

Following her death, Ms McCann's family said in a tribute issued through GMP: "Elizabeth had the biggest heart anyone could ask for, and the warmest smile. She was taken from us too soon, the world hadn’t gotten to know the love Elizabeth gave. She will be deeply missed by her family and friends.”

In a moving victim impact statement read at the sentencing hearing, Ms McCann’s mother, Debbie McCann said: “Lizzie was always so trusting but she would often get let down and friends would use her when convenient.

"This never deterred her though, Lizzie always wanted to make new friends.We have seriously struggled to accept that she is gone. I keep trying to ring her in an attempt to speak to her again.

“No parent should have to survive without their child. As her mother, I felt her death was my responsibility as I failed to protect her. Lizzie’s personality touched everyone who met her. She was the most amazing, beautiful daughter, sister and mother anyone could ever ask for and we will always miss her.”

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