Saturday, October 18, 2014

British police took away mother's panic alarm in 'huge catalogue' of failings before she was strangled by ex who had killed a previous partner

Police took away a mother's panic alarm in a 'huge catalogue' of failings just months before she was strangled by her ex partner - who had already killed before.

Marc Chivers - who had been convicted of murdering another woman in 1992 - used a dog lead to kill Maria Stubbings at her home in Great Baddow, Essex in December 2008.

A four-week inquest into the death has revealed a series of failures by Essex Police in 'almost every part of its investigation'.

Ms Stubbings' family has lashed out at police claiming they were as much to blame 'as the murderer himself'.

The inquest in Chelmsford heard Ms Stubbings began a relationship with Chivers without knowing he had killed his last partner.

Ms Stubbings was considered to be 'high risk' after she reported an assault by Chivers in July 2008 and was given a panic alarm. But this was taken away a day later when Chivers was arrested.

Later that year he was found guilty of assault but was freed having already spent three months in jail awaiting the hearing - but Ms Stubbings was not told of his release.

The jury heard that she then made repeated 999 calls to police, but officers did not go to her house for a week.

When they finally did, Chivers, who had previously been jailed for murder in Germany, answered the door only for police to leave when he told them Ms Stubbings had gone away.

Her body was found the next day hidden under a pile of clothes in her bathroom. Chivers was jailed for life at Chelmsford Crown Court in 2009.

In 1992, Chivers, who was born and raised in Germany, strangled his first victim with a rope before burying her body in a shallow grave and going on the run.

He was arrested three months later before being jailed.

Speaking after the jury returned a damning narrative verdict, Ms Stubbings' family launched a scathing attack on Essex Police.

A statement issued by her brother, Manuel Fernandez, her daughter Celia Peachey and son, Benji Stubbings, said: 'Maria's murder is as much the fault of Essex Police as the murderer himself. 'They assessed Maria as being at high risk of death or serious harm from Chivers. 'Yet when she called asking for help, they found every excuse to do nothing.'

The family confirmed Essex Police have now admitted civil liability in a case brought against them. 'After six years of fighting for justice we are grateful to the jury for finding a huge catalogue of police failures,' they added.

Essex Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray is sending a report about the case to the Government.

Afterwards Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh admitted Essex Police did not protect Ms Stubbings and apologised to her family. He said: 'I know nothing can ever bring Maria back but I want them to know the way we deal with domestic abuse in Essex has changed greatly. 'Maria's family have shown great courage and determination in holding us to account for the mistakes we made.

This is not the first time Essex Police has been accused of failing a victim of violent crime.

In 2012 an investigation found a catalogue of police failings allowed killer David Oakes to murder his ex-partner and daughter.

The police watchdog said officers took 'inadequate action' to arrest the 50-year-old before he shot Christine Chambers, 38, and Shania, two, at their home in Braintree, Essex.

Oakes, of Steeple, near Maldon, was given two whole-life jail terms after being found guilty of the murders, which happened in June 2011.

It emerged during his trial at Chelmsford Crown Court that police had visited either his address or Miss Chambers' home six times in the two years before the murders.

The trial heard that Oakes stormed Ms Chambers’ house and blasted her and their daughter Shania with a shotgun just weeks after the family gained a restraining order against him. He then shot himself in the face, but survived.

A damning report released by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded there was a number of failings by Essex Police, including missed chances to arrest Oakes before the killings.

Responding to the report, Essex Police said it accepted the findings and apologised for the failings which had been identified.

In March, it was revealed that police had failed to attend a call just hours before a mother was brutally murdered by her jealous ex-partner.

Jeanette Goodwin, 47, was stabbed more than 20 times by her former lover Martin Bunch at her home in Southend, Essex, in July 2011.

Bunch had stalked his ex-partner for months and was on bail for harassment when he broke into her back garden in a jealous rage with a kitchen knife.

A domestic homicide review by the Southend Community Safety Partnership said police failed to attend a call on the day of the murder.

Mrs Goodwin called police at 2.30pm on July 24, 2011, to inform them she was being harassed by Bunch and arranged for officers to check up on her at 4.30pm.

But police failed to attend the arranged meeting and only came hours later when a panic alarm was sounded during the frenzied attack at around 7.30pm.

'I have made it a personal mission that a situation like hers must never be allowed to happen again.

'Protecting every single person at risk of domestic abuse is a huge challenge for the police and our partners, but it is one we are determined to meet.'

In May last year, the Independent Police Complaints Commission judged Essex Police 'missed a large number of opportunities' to deal with Ms Stubbings' case before she was killed.

It concluded: 'It is ironic that Ms Stubbings was offered the most support and protection while Chivers was in prison, when the risk from him was minimal.

'When he was released both she and her son were left completely vulnerable.. 'All the risks that were there when Ms Stubbings called the police in July still existed after his release; indeed arguably the risk was even higher, as Chivers had just served several months in prison as a result of her complaint.

'Ms Stubbings was then murdered by Chivers and her son has endured profound and ongoing trauma as a result of his mother's brutal death.'

Original report here


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