Chelmsford: Police chief pledges domestic abuse victims will not be failed again after inquest rules Maria Stubbings was let down by Essex Police
- Credit: Peter Lawson/Eastnews Press Agen
A police chief has promised “never to fail another victim” after an inquest ruled that Essex officers let down a woman who was strangled by her convicted killer boyfriend.
Maria Stubbings, 50, was murdered by Marc Chivers at her home in Chelmsford in 2008 after months of domestic abuse.
The victim had no idea that Chivers had been convicted of killing his last girlfriend in Germany in 2009.
She repeatedly called the police in the week before her death but officers did not visit her house for days, by which time it was too late to save her.
Ms Stubbings’ body was finally discovered at her home in December 2008. She had been strangled with a dog lead.
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The jury at her inquest found that Essex Police made a catalogue of errors and failed to protect her from her violent boyfriend.
It said the force made a number of blunders which began in July 2008 when Ms Stubbings first reported she had been attacked by Chivers.
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Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, pledged that officers would not let another victim down in the future.
He said: “Since the murder of Maria Stubbings in December 2008, during a time of grief and unbearable loss, her family has shown great commitment and courage in seeking to find out exactly what happened.
“In doing so they have performed an important public service.
“It is essential that we all understand the nature of the failures in this case. It is equally essential that those failures are addressed and rectified.”
He added: “Together, we must ensure that a person is never again failed in the way that Maria Stubbings was failed.
“We must also strive at all times to protect people from the harm of domestic abuse.”
Ms Stubbings was considered to be “high risk” and was given a panic alarm, but this was taken away when Chivers was arrested.
Later that year he was found guilty of assault, but she was not told when he was released from prison.
Despite repeated 999 calls, officers did not visit Ms Stubbings’ house for a week and when they did, it was Chivers who answered the door.
The police left after he told them that Ms Stubbings had gone away but she was in all likelihood already dead.
Her body was found the next day but could have been there for several days, the inquest was told.
Essex Police has now introduced Operation Shield which will target 120 high risk perpetrators of domestic abuse.
“There are also specialist domestic abuse teams overseeing complex cases and ensuring vital information is not missed,” Mr Alston said.
“This relentless focus on perpetrators and commitment to specialist oversight of high risk cases is essential if tragedies such as the murder of Maria Stubbings are to be prevented in the future.”