Manchester

Fatal Altrincham fire: Police 'acted properly' IPCC find

Scene of fatal house fire in Broadheath Image copyright Other
Image caption The IPCC concluded officers could not have predicted David Potts' actions

Police acted appropriately in the case of a fire started deliberately by a woman's ex-partner that killed her and her son, the police watchdog said.

Tracy Jones, 40, Shaun Van Stratten, 15, and David Potts, 39, died in the fire in Barlow Street, Broadheath, Altrincham, in 2011.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said Greater Manchester Police (GMP) could not have predicted the outcome.

A serious case review criticised GMP.

'Catastrophic action'

A serious case review by Trafford Safeguarding Children Board had previously criticised health officials and police for failing to take action against Potts before he set fire to Ms Jones' home on 19 September 2011.

However, it had said it was impossible to say whether the incident could have been prevented.

The review said the month before, Potts had made it clear he wanted to set fire to himself and harm police officers.

The IPCC, however, concluded no GMP officers received information predicting Potts' actions towards Ms Jones and her family.

Image copyright Other
Image caption David Potts had a history of violent and threatening behaviour, the IPCC said

Ms Jones contacted the police force five times in the four weeks before the fire but she did not report threatening behaviour, the watchdog said.

Once was to report a car theft. A second time was to inform them Potts had contacted her, which led to him being warned he could be arrested.

She then reported Potts had contacted her again to tell her he had had a heart attack.

Another time, she reported he had sent a text message to one of her children.

The final call was about a letter she received on 7 September.

Ms Jones' four-year-old son Zachary and her then 18-year-old daughter Caitlin Van Stratten were injured but survived the incident.

An inquest concluded that the pair were unlawfully killed and Potts killed himself.

IPCC commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: "There was nothing within those contacts that could have led police officers to predict the catastrophic course of action that Mr Potts embarked on."

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