Bury St Edmunds: Police “may have prevented” mum’s bolt gun murder, claims family

THE murder of a fitness instructor might have been prevented had police sent an officer when the victim called, her family has said.

The family of Mary Griffiths, who was repeatedly shot with a bolt gun at her home in Bury St Edmunds in 2009, have spoken out about the case in the wake of a report into the way it was handled by Suffolk police.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission was called on to probe the contact between the mother-of-three and police in the hours before her murder in Bury St Edmunds.

She had called police on a non-emergency number to say she was concerned about the behaviour of John McFarlane.

Police decided not to dispatch an officer but arranged to meet up with her in the morning.

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However, in the early hours of that morning, McFarlane broke into Ms Griffiths’ home in Bullrush Crescent, Bury St Edmunds, and murdered her.

McFarlane is currently serving a 30 year sentence.

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IPCC commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said in her report: “The investigation found that based on the evidence gathered and existing force policies and guidance, while the call from Ms Griffiths was graded correctly, the police should have dispatched an officer to visit her home at the earliest available opportunity on the evening of May 5, rather than wait until the following day.”

In a statement on behalf of the family, Ms Griffiths’ sister Irene Ryan said: “We, Mary’s family, feel let down by Suffolk Police failure to call to Mary’s house on the evening of May 5.

“As stated in the IPCC findings, Suffolk Police did have resources available to call to Mary’s house but failed to respond to Mary’s call. We feel if an officer had called to Mary’s house that evening as promised it is possible Mary’s death may have been prevented.

“We welcome the measures Suffolk police have now put in place but nothing will ever compensate our family for the loss of our beloved Mary.”

Responding to the IPCC findings, Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull said: “All officers and police staff at Suffolk Constabulary have been keen to establish whether there were any lessons to be learnt from this incident.

“Prior to the completion of the IPCC investigation, Suffolk Constabulary took steps to make changes to the policies, procedures and training provision around the dealing of harassment calls.

“I would like to reassure people in Suffolk that all the recommendations have been taken on board and are being acted upon.

“We receive a number of calls reporting harassment on a daily basis – each one is carefully and individually assessed to ensure an appropriate police response.”

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