Jeanette Goodwin murder: Essex Police response 'inadequate'

Essex Police says it has improved the way it deals with such cases

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A woman who was killed by her former partner received an "inadequate response" from Essex Police on the day of her murder, a watchdog has found.

Jeanette Goodwin was stabbed 30 times by Martin Bunch, 44, in front of her husband at her home in Southend, Essex.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission found she called police before the attack, but they did not recognise "urgent action" was needed.

Essex Police said it had taken steps to improve.

Panic alarm

Mrs Goodwin, 47, a mother of three, made seven reports of harassment and domestic violence by Bunch to police from January 2011 up until her death on 24 July of that year.

Bunch was jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years after he was convicted of murder at Chelmsford Crown Court in August 2012.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report said Essex Police took Mrs Goodwin's reports of domestic violence "seriously from the outset" to "effectively protect" her.

TIMELINE

  • 21 June 2011: Martin Bunch is convicted of battery against Mrs Goodwin and receives a conditional discharge from South East Essex magistrates.
  • June 2011: Police charge Bunch with harassment and a separate matter of ABH. When brought to court, he is released on conditional bail by magistrates.
  • June to July 2011: Bunch is charged with three breaches, one was for removing his electronic tag. On two occasions he is released on bail with conditions not to contact Mrs Goodwin.
  • 14:40 BST, 24 July 2011: Mrs Goodwin calls police to report harassment and says five times that she is scared and Bunch is at her fence. The call taker makes the note "calm, male not present".
  • 19:40 BST: Mrs Goodwin's home panic alarm is activated and she is later found fatally injured.

The investigation found the force put Bunch before the courts on several occasions, strongly urging his remand in custody on the basis it was the only way to effectively protect Mrs Goodwin.

However, on the day of her murder the report said there was "a breakdown of communication, a lack of resources and a failure to appropriately prioritise the case".

Mrs Goodwin's fear was not noted on the police log and background or intelligence checks were not made, to inform the police response.

The IPCC said too few supervisory staff in the control room and limited officer resources in the Southend area on a busy day, "led to the call not being treated as urgent".

There was no further police contact with Mrs Goodwin until five hours after the phone call when her home panic alarm was activated.

Officers swiftly attended, the report states, and found her with multiple stab wounds.

'Badly flawed'

IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said the inadequate police response on the day of the murder contrasted with the concerted effort to protect Mrs Goodwin.

"The system in place then was badly flawed, not utilising intelligence checks to inform decision-making when prioritising incidents," she added.

The fact Bunch was near Mrs Goodwin's home "required immediate and urgent action to try and arrest him".

Deputy Chief Constable Derek Benson said the IPCC found the work of four members of police staff and one acting police sergeant "did not amount to misconduct".

Martin Bunch Martin Bunch was jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years

He said the call from Mrs Goodwin "should have been treated more seriously".

Essex Police said it had carried out a review of its domestic abuse policy to ensure that appropriate checks were completed and accurately recorded on the log.

The IPCC has investigated the way Essex Police has handled domestic abuse cases three times since 2010.

In a statement, Mrs Goodwin's family said: "The family are pleased that the IPCC report has highlighted areas of procedures that could have been better on the day of Jeanette's death.

"Although this will not bring back our dearest Jeanette, we are satisfied that these procedures have been improved, ensuring that victims of domestic violence can now be treated as they should, as a priority."

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