Police force faces investigation

ESSEX Police are to be investigated by an independent watchdog over the handling of a recent murder investigation, it emerged last night.

James Hore

ESSEX Police are to be investigated by an independent watchdog over the handling of a recent murder investigation, it emerged last night.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is looking at the actions of the force following the death of Maria Stubbings.

The 50-year-old was found dead at her home in Pitfield, Chelmsford and a man has been arrested and charged with her murder last month.

It has now emerged that Ms Stubbings had reported a burglary at her home to Essex Police on December 11, and allegedly told officers she feared for her safety because she “believed the intruder may have been a former partner”.

According to the IPCC officers made contact with Ms Stubbings again on December 13, but she did not make a complaint against anyone.

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However, following a review of the incident by a senior officer, police then returned to her home on December 18 and again the following day when they discovered Ms Stubbings' body.

A man at the premises was arrested and was later charged with murder.

The matter was referred to the IPCC by Essex Police and it was announced yesterday that an independent investigation would be undertaken.

David Petch, IPCC commissioner said: “This is a tragic case in which Maria Stubbings sadly died.

“Our investigation is examining the actions taken by officers and how they responded to the initial concerns raised by Ms Stubbings.”

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: “Essex Police referred this case to the IPCC in December 2008 and we can confirm that they will be conducting an independent investigation.”

“While this is on-going, it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

n A 41-year-old man from Chelmsford has been charged with murdering Ms Stubbings and will appear at Chelmsford Crown Court to enter a plea later this year.