In the Media

Nurse murdered by husband was failed by police, IPCC rules

PUBLISHED January 20, 2012

Police dismissed Kate Mott's case as 'bickering adults' when she sought help before being strangled by her husband

A nurse who was murdered by her estranged husband was failed by police who dismissed her complaint that he was harassing her as a case of "bickering adults".

Kate Mott, 35, had taken "appropriate legal steps" to protect herself and obtained a court order against her husband Brent Mott, 32, a month before he strangled her in January 2010.

But when she sought help from Merseyside police, "errors" in the way it processed one of her calls led to it being handled incorrectly and "she did not receive the level of service she was entitled to", said the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The force has made a face-to-face apology to Mrs Mott's family and said it had carried out an "extensive" review of its domestic abuse policy and procedure following the death.

The police watchdog launched an investigation shortly after Mott's husband, also a nurse, was convicted of her murder in August 2010.

He was jailed for a minimum of 25 years after Liverpool crown court heard he strangled the mother of his two children at their Southport home then tried to make her death look like the result of a car crash. He also raped her at or around the time of the killing, the court heard.

Police call centre workers and officers failed to grasp the seriousness of the court injunction ? a non-molestation order ? and treated her complaint as a case of "adults quarrelling over divorce proceedings", said the IPCC.

An officer told her she should contact her solicitor rather than police. The officer did not clarify the name of the husband, or add his name to the incident log. He also failed to make any checks about Brent Mott on the police national computer.

Kate Mott later complained in a letter to her solicitor she "was extremely disappointed and let down after this call", said the IPCC in its report.

The IPCC commissioner, Naseem Malik, said: "The murder of Kate Mott was a terrible tragedy. She was trying to escape an oppressive and abusive relationship.

"She had taken the appropriate legal steps to protect herself, but when she turned to Merseyside police for assistance she clearly did not receive the level of service she was entitled to.

"In our opinion there were failings at each stage of the contact and in particular the way the police officer handled the call with Mrs Mott raises significant concerns.

"While his actions have not reached the level which amounts to misconduct, it is clear his performance fell substantially below what should have been expected.

"He was dealing with a concerned, vulnerable woman but he dismissed her concerns as a case of bickering adults and gave totally inappropriate advice."

Malik said the police apology may only offer "a small piece of comfort" to Kate Mott's family, but it was an "important step".

It was a matter of concern that the officer who "mishandled Mrs Mott's call so badly" had not been trained in nor acquainted himself with Merseyside police policies in place to deal with such incidents.

The IPCC recommended the force "reinforced its domestic abuse policies with all its officers and staff".

Merseyside police, which had referred the case to the IPCC, said it had made a number of changes to strengthen the processing of non-molestation orders and reminded officers and staff of its domestic abuse policy.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Williams of Merseyside police said: "I would like to take this opportunity to express our sympathy to the family of Kate Mott for their terrible loss. Our thoughts remain with them."

He added: "The IPCC report recognises that the force has acknowledged failings in this case and as a consequence has made a recommendation for the force to improve the reinforcement of domestic abuse policy and procedures with officers and staff.

"However, it is clear that, in this case, the processes and training we had in place at that time fell short of the required standard. We are now confident that the changes we have put in place have led to a greater understanding of non-molestation orders." © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds