Review finds failings of agencies before murder of mum and son in Louth

Bethany Vincent, 26, and her son Darren Henson, 9, who were murdered at their home in Louth in May 2021
Bethany Vincent, 26, and her son Darren Henson, 9, who were murdered at their home in Louth in May 2021 -Credit:gofundme

A damning report has highlighted the missed opportunities before mother Bethany Vincent and her young son Darren Henson were murdered by her former partner.

Almost three years after Daniel Boulton, then 30, walked 28 miles from a hostel in Skegness to Louth to stab the nine year old boy and his 26-year-old mum in their home, the review has identified failings of agencies and professionals to identify risks earlier.

Threats and comments by Boulton were "effectively disregarded" and signs of his coercion and control were missed, even though there were indicators, a panel of independent reviewers found.


A 60-page review pays tribute to the mother and son who were murdered at their Newbridge Hill home on May 31, 2021. It led to a manhunt through Louth and Hubbards Hills before Boulton was finally cornered. He had also attempted to stab off-duty police officer PC Steve Denniss when he was walking his dog in the scenic beauty spot the following day.

Boulton was convicted at Lincoln Crown Court of two counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 40 years.

Judge Mr Justice Pepperall said the murders were carried out "calmly, callously and efficiently" by Boulton who he described as "a very dangerous man".

The family of Bethany and Darren questioned why Boulton had not been jailed for an assault on Bethany and her mother in the December prior to her murder. Instead, magistrates gave him a 24-month community order and a restraining order, which he repeatedly breached.

The author of the review, Dr Russell Wate QPM, stated the actual names of Bethany and Darren would be used, at the family's request, rather than pseudonyms "to ensure that both Bethany and Darren, known as DJ, have a voice throughout this process and that this review is faithful to their legacy".

PC Steven Denniss, left, was stabbed by murderer Daniel Boulton during his manhunt after killing Bethany Vincent and Darren Henson
PC Steven Denniss, left, was stabbed by murderer Daniel Boulton during his manhunt after killing Bethany Vincent and Darren Henson -Credit:Lincolnshire Police

The family also requested the reviewers refer to Boulton as "perpetrator".

The report said: "No words can adequately describe their loss and, as a panel, our motivation is to ensure that this review delivers an open and holistic picture of who they both were and how the learning identified can contribute to protecting other victims in the future."

Another child, an infant who was in the home, was uninjured. A passerby took the baby, who cannot be named, to safety after the murders at around 8pm on May 31, 2021.

The Combined Child Safeguarding Practice Review and Domestic Homicide Review concerning the deaths of Bethany and DJ concluded perpetrator's level of his risk to the mother and son, as well as the wider family, was "underestimated throughout".

The review said: "What is unequivocal is that the lines of communication between agencies was not sufficient to fully understand the risks involved."

It added warning signs were missed. "Opportunities to have addressed a more thorough understanding of the perpetrator’s risk towards Bethany and DJ became secondary to the perceptions of the needs of the mental health of the perpetrator and he manipulated this to his advantage," the report said. Bethany was probably unaware of his violent past when he was convicted of assault on a previous partner in 2018.

The report states: "Coupled with coercion and control, it does become apparent that other solutions and action could have been taken against the perpetrator in both mid, and then late, December 2020, but also in January 2021. The exercise of coercion and control was not identified even though there were indicators of such behaviours. Those signs were missed, even though they were part of the evidence from Bethany in her witness statements."

It adds: "The fact that the perpetrator was repeatedly returning to Bethany’s home was an obvious indicator of the escalation of the risk of harm."

The review panel acknowledged that it was within the period where ‘normal’ activities were affected by emergency legislation and governmental advice concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. But still more should have been done to "target harden" Bethany, her children and their home.

The report concluded key individuals were not aware of the extent of Boulton's blame on nine-year-old Darren for the "wedge in the relationship" between him and Bethany. They were not aware of this until after the murders and "numerous threats and comments made by the perpetrator to different practitioners throughout, were effectively disregarded."

At the Salvation Army hostel, chaplains had become concerned that Boulton had spoken of "killing the whole bloodline".

Probation service staff, a social worker and Building Better Relationships manager had all met with him as he became increasingly frustrated at his lack of contact with the baby looked after by Bethany at her Louth home. She was due to move to a new address, which was not known to her former partner. Bethany had repeatedly said she did not want the infant to have contact with her ex-partner because there was no suitable third party to supervise the contact.

The former amusement arcade worker had complained to community mental health team staff about the impact of the lack of access to his infant child. In February 2021, Boulton had been convicted of assault on Bethany and her mum and was sentenced to a 24-month community order and a restraining order. But he was granted access to the baby, through a third party.

The assault had happened when he attended Bethany's home, in breach of a restraining order. On December 12, 2020, he was again outside her home, in breach of his bail conditions. He told police the mother had not let him see the baby. Bethany told police she had let Boulton stay the night at her home during the previous week, but realised it was a mistake.

Court orders were repeatedly breached by the ex-partner. He told a social worker he had breached the restraining order not to contact Bethany six times, including a visit to her home. In February 2021, Bethany told her social worker she would not allow any further contact with him.

When he sought help from a mental health agency, he was told a clinician would get in touch. When the clinician repeatedly called, Boulton failed to respond and did not contact the agency when they wrote to him.

The report listed a series of recommendations to agencies to co-ordinate the raising of professionals’ awareness, knowledge and understanding of domestic violence, the risks following separation of harassment and stalking and coercive and controlling behaviours. It said domestic abuse is always harmful to children.

It recommended "when they work with victims of domestic abuse who are unable to, or reluctant to engage, that they consider the best individual, or agency, who could facilitate this engagement, in order to ensure that any risk posed to the victims and their children in these families is properly assessed and the victim can be suitably supported." Perpetrators of domestic abuse had to be robustly managed and information sharing between agencies had to be improved, the report said.

The lessons from the murders of Bethany and Darren had to be learned by all staff, it concluded.

In tribute, the author said the deaths had a profound effect on the families and the wider community "that will endure for generations to come and continue to have an impact not confined to the family but also to friends, associates, and the wider community alike".

They added: "Bethany was a quiet and private person who didn’t go out very often. She separated from Darren’s father before he was two years old. She was devoted to Darren who was affectionately known as DJ by her and the family. Although she had friends and read books, Bethany spent a lot of time with, and was close to her immediate family. When it came to their relationship as mother and son; DJ and Bethany were said to be, ‘two peas in a pod’ and ‘best friends.’ DJ spent weekends with his father who was still close to Bethany and a good friend of hers."

In tribute, the report said: "DJ had a massive personality and he would say anything to anyone, not in a malicious way, he just said what he thought. He had special needs and went to a school which the family describe as amazing and they really ‘got’ DJ and understood him. He was diagnosed with autism at a very young age.

"He struggled to deal with his emotions but not in an aggressive way. He was mad keen on football and Chelsea was his favourite team. DJ also loved Mario games and everything to do with Mario. He would talk to everybody but didn’t have any idea of keeping personal space. He was so loved."