PHOTO COURTESY OF ESSEX POLICE
A killer has been jailed for life for stabbing to death a debt collector who visited his home to collect a loan payment. Mathew Colley, LONEALERT’s Sales & Marketing Manager, says the tragedy is an horrific reminder of the very real risks facing lone workers.
Tina Cantello was going about her daily job as a debt collector when she visited the home of Geoffrey Hutton to collect a loan payment. It was a meeting that had been arranged in advance, and a property the popular mother had visited many times before.
Despite enjoying a 'perfectly amicable relationship’ in previous meetings, the visit on June 8 took and unimaginably horrific turn. Ms Cantello was stabbed 30 times in her chest and neck.
Tina’s family and police had launched a desperate appeal to find her when she failed to return home from work that evening. Subsequent enquiries and investigations into the movement of 49-year-old Ms Cantello’s car then led officers to the defendant's address, which they entered some 24 hours later. There, they found her murderer covered in blood and discovered the tragic victim’s body in an upstairs bedroom.
Following a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, 38-year-old Hutton was found guilty of murder and jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 30 years behind bars.
The tragic case has once again thrust the issue of lone working into the spotlight in the most shocking of ways. And, as murderer Hutton starts his jail term for the heinous crime, its brutality has highlighted the very grave and real risks that lone workers face for simply going about their daily roles.
And - if they are not already - this tragedy should make every employer sit up and put every effort into ensuring they are doing everything in their power to give their workers the best possible protection against whatever risks they face so they can come home safe to their families each day - whatever their title or pay grade and whatever industry they work in.
There’s still no actual law in place specifically addressing lone working in the UK - but the issue continues to gain prominence as more and more people incorporate lone or remote working in their roles, whilst employers address their responsibility of providing a Duty of Care for their staff.
Lone workers have many faces, in many industries - not just those like Ms Cantello visiting the homes of strangers alone. It could be a window cleaner working 10 storeys high, or the overnight manager of the 24-hour petrol station. Or the cleaner mopping the third-floor of the huge office block after dark, the nurse manning a busy A&E on a Friday night, the warehouse supervisor locking up after the machines have been shut down, or the driver travelling the country in charge of a lorry-load worth tens of thousands of pounds.
And, whilst no lone worker protection could ever prevent an attack or accident from happening, what it can do is trigger an immediate alarm that ensures suitable assistance can be sent to the correct location immediately. It is just one element of wider measures that can be taken to best prepare a worker for the situations they face.
Every company and organisation in the UK has their own guidelines when it comes to lone working due to the lack of specific national law in place. But this truly horrific case really brings home the importance of talking about lone working and identifying if enough really is being done by all companies and organisations - however large or small - to keep every member of staff safe. A lone worker alarm could have prevented the death if the authorities were alerted sooner, an app on a smartphone would be a simple line of security .
Tina’s tragic murder highlights just how vulnerable lone workers can be by simply doing their jobs. They all have a right to go back home to the comfort of their homes and families after the working day or night is done.