High Court damages case brought by daughters of murdered Bury St Edmunds woman concludes

Mary Griffiths. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Mary Griffiths. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A High Court trial which saw the daughters of murdered Bury St Edmunds woman Mary Griffiths seek damages against Suffolk Constabulary and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) concluded today.

John Macfarlane was given a life sentence for the murder.

John Macfarlane was given a life sentence for the murder. - Credit: Archant

The two-week civil case was heard at the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice and has now been reserved for judgement by the judge – meaning a final ruling will be given at a later date.

Ms Griffiths, 38, a fitness instructor, was shot dead in her home in front of her daughters by John McFarlane after he broke into her house in Bulrush Crescent in the early hours of May 6, 2009.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission was called on to investigate 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 McFarlane.


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

IPCC commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said in her report that while the call was graded correctly, an officer should have been dispatched at the earliest opportunity on May 5.

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McFarlane had been under the care of the then Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust and had been assessed as being of no significant risk to others just three days before the murder.

An independent NHS Midlands and East report identified “some weaknesses” in the care, but concluded that “her tragic murder could not have been predicted”.

Hannah, Sophie and Jessica Griffiths are seeking damages against Suffolk police and NSFT for violations of the Human Rights Act 1998, and a negligence claim is also being pursued against NSFT.

Speaking on behalf of the daughters, solicitor Kim Vernal, of Imran Khan and Partners, said: “The brutal murder of Mary Griffiths has caused so much heartache to so many lives.

“We believe that Mary and her murderer John McFarlane were both failed by the failings of Suffolk Police and the NHS Trust.

“Mary’s family, friends and her daughters continue to live with the consequences every day.

“This has been a long battle for justice and accountability and we will continue to pursue this.”

Both Suffolk police and NSFT said they did not wish to comment further on the case.

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