Facebook killer Peter Chapman 'slipped away from police'

Ashleigh Hall
Image caption A post-mortem examination revealed that Ashleigh had been smothered

Merseyside Police allowed a sex offender to "slip away" and murder a teenager he had befriended on Facebook, an inquiry has found.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded inadequate resources resulted in the poor management of Peter Chapman.

The PC in charge of the case had not received proper training in monitoring sex offenders.

Chapman murdered Ashleigh Hall, 17, in County Durham in October 2009.

As a convicted rapist, he was placed on the sex offenders register in 1996.

Chapman, who lived in Merseyside, pleaded guilty to murdering Ashleigh, from Darlington, by smothering her to death.

'Cried all morning'

He had claimed on the social networking site that he was a teenager and posted a picture of an unknown man as his online profile image.

Merseyside Police made a referral over its conduct to the IPCC after his conviction.

Ashleigh Hall's mother Andrea said: "Obviously when I started reading [the report], it was just like reliving it all over again, and I didn't really realise how severe it was.

"It's really bad I think, it's worse than I ever imagined, I have probably cried all morning actually because it is that bad.

"It wouldn't make things better and it wouldn't make things right but an apology would be nice.

"Just even to say 'look sorry, we do know this, this, this could have happened or shouldn't have happened'. Just even that one word, just sorry."

The IPCC said that between being registered and committing the murder, Chapman had come under suspicion of two sex offences, was convicted of motoring offences and theft and was jailed for failing to comply with his registration order.

'Poorly organised'

Image caption Chapman pretended to be a teenager on the social networking site

The watchdog said after May 2005, when Chapman moved within Merseyside and came under Knowsley's sex offender unit, he should have been visited every three months.

But the IPCC said that one period of nine months elapsed between visits by a woman police officer, who worked alone because of low staffing levels.

The IPCC investigation concluded that staffing levels at Merseyside Police's Knowsley sex offender unit meant effective management of offenders was impossible.

The unit was found to be "poorly organised and was the only one in the force that was not a stand-alone unit".

The IPCC found that the PC in charge had received no appropriate training in the management of sex offenders, despite repeated requests by her for such training.

The PC and a detective sergeant who provided supervision have received management advice, the IPCC said.

'Impossible task'

Merseyside Police has undertaken an extensive review of the organisation, management and resourcing of its sex offender units, it said.

IPCC commissioner Naseem Malik said: "It is evident from our investigation that this particular sex offender unit was inadequately resourced and as result the officer tasked with managing sex offenders in the community had an impossible task.

"Chapman was not monitored effectively and managed to slip away with terrible consequences.

"I fully appreciate that irrespective of the failings in monitoring, Chapman may well have enacted his plan anyway.

"Only 24-hour-a-day monitoring could ensure prevention of such acts.

"My deepest sympathies go out to Ashleigh Hall's family for their loss.

"Their grief can only be compounded by the evident police failings that have been uncovered surrounding the man who murdered Ashleigh."

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