Friday, March 11, 2011

British police officers keep their jobs despite refusing to respond to emergency call as woman was knifed to death

They were too busy house-hunting

PC Frater

A woman was stabbed to death in front of her teenage son as two police officers in the same village ignored calls to attend the incident. Louise Webster was knifed three times by long-term partner Martin Ashby, 46. A jury was played a harrowing 999 call made by Aaron Williams, 18, as his mother lay dying.

But although GPS signals placed PC Ron Frater and a second, less experienced officer, in Roade, the pair refused to attend. They said they were part of an anti-prostitution operation in Northampton, seven miles away, and their inspector would not wish them to divert from their task.

The officers said they had followed a suspicious car from the town centre to Roade, but had been unable to write down its registration number.

An investigation discovered that the pair failed to record anything in their notebooks about the anti-prostitution exercise or any other police incident in the six hours they had been on duty.

And PC Frater admitted travelling to Roade the previous night to look for houses for sale when he should have been working in Northampton.

A source with knowledge of the case told the Daily Mail that it is believed PC Frater decided to return to the village to continue house-hunting when the 999 call came in. His colleague is thought to have agreed to accompany him.

They have been handed final written warnings for ‘gross misconduct’. The scandal emerged in a report into the case published yesterday by the Independent Police Complaints Authority, which branded the officers’ conduct ‘deeply disturbing’.

Ashby was jailed for life on Friday and ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years. During the 999 call, Ashby could be heard saying Miss Webster, 40, ‘deserved it’, as her son begged him to put down the knife.

But when the two officers refused to attend, paramedics were left waiting outside the house for their own safety – as Ashby wandered in the street – for five minutes until the next closest officer arrived.

The IPCC investigation also established that the officers ‘were not prohibited by the inspector from responding to emergency calls’, something which ‘they would have been aware of’. No evidence could be found to prove or disprove the claim that they had followed a suspicious car to Roade.

Medical experts said Miss Webster, a mother of three, suffered such grave injuries that she would have died even if PC Frater and his colleague had attended. But they would have been able to detain Ashby and assisted her son, who ‘remained in potential jeopardy’, the IPCC said.

IPCC Commissioner Amerdeep Somal said: ‘The police work to protect the public and preserve life. I find it deeply disturbing that these two officers, who were in the immediate vicinity, chose to ignore these basic but fundamental principles.’

Northamptonshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said: ‘We fully accept the findings of the IPCC and the recommendations that were made.’ She apologised for the ‘distress’ caused to Miss Webster’s family.

Original report here

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