Chelmsford: Murder victim left “completely vulnerable” after killer was released from jail, investigation finds

Maria Stubbings

Maria Stubbings - Credit: Peter Lawson/Eastnews Press Agen

The family of an Essex woman who was strangled to death in her home plan to sue the police after a second report into her death revealed a catalogue of mistakes by the force.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the death of 50-year-old Maria Stubbings said she and her son were left “completely vulnerable” in the months leading up to her death.

Essex Police was heavily critcised in the report for missing a number of opportunities to protect her from convicted killer, Marc Chivers.

Ms Stubbings was found dead at her home in Pitfield, Chelmsford, on December 19, 2008 after being strangled by Chivers, who was released from prison for assaulting Ms Stubbings just a few months before her death.

The investigation found police failed to put safety measure in place following his release in October 2008.

IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: “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.”

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Ms Stubbings’ son, Benji, said: “It’s horrific to discover the extent of the police’s failings – and hard to understand how they got it so wrong. The risk to my mum and to me was clear.”

The family’s solicitor confirmed they would be seeking an inquest and bringing a civil claim.

As a result of the investigation, three officers have been subject to management action.

A spokesman for Essex police said the force has accepted the findings of the report and chief constable, Stephen Kavanagh, has offered to meet Ms Stubbings’ family to apologise.

Mr Kavanagh said: “We fully recognise that this is one of three tragic murders in Essex which has led to an IPCC investigation. We have taken on board the recommendations of those reports, many are already in place and work continues to improve the consistency of our response to domestic abuse.”

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, has also pledged to make funding available to help continue the work of organisations which safeguard and support domestic abuse victims

The IPCC has now made a number of recommendations to ensure officers dealing with domestic abuse incidents consider the wellbeing of children in the home, complete checks to make sure suspects are traced and are aware of the need to deal with domestic abuse cases quickly.

In wake of Ms Stubbings’ death, Essex Police has made a number of changes to improve the way domestic abuse is handled in the county including extra training for officers and treating domestic abuse cases as a priority.

Work is also continuing to develop a multi-agency hub to respond to domestic abuse incidents.