Wales

Two police forces failed woman killed by ex

  • 26 July 2010
  • From the section Wales

A woman murdered by her former boyfriend was failed by two police forces and the 999 system, the police watchdog has found.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) looked at actions by South Wales Police and Gwent Police before the killing of Joanna Michael.

The 25-year-old mother-of-two was stabbed to death at home in St Mellons, Cardiff, by Cyron Williams, 19.

The IPCC blamed a "fatal combination of technological and human errors".

Williams was jailed for life in March 2010 after admitting murder in a "frenzied" attack.

Ms Michael had made two 999 phone calls in the minutes before her death in August 2009 but police did not arrive until after she had been fatally stabbed.

Two police call handlers, one at Gwent Police and one at South Wales Police, face disciplinary action following the inquiry.

IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: "The investigation found that Joanna's emergency phone calls from her mobile phone were misrouted by the mobile phone mast system to Gwent Police which did not help her situation.

"Joanna was then failed by the two police forces at an organisational level with their policies, training and communication systems between the two forces.

"She was further failed by the actions of the two individual call handlers dealing with her request for help."

He continued: "The simple fact is that at 2.29am when Joanna called 999, an immediate police response could have got to her house in five minutes.

"Because of all the various failings, the emergency response did not arrive until 2.50am, when she had already been stabbed, probably at about 2.45am.

"The IPCC cannot say that an earlier response would have saved Joanna's life. For all we know if the police had attended Joanna's house at 2.35am Williams may have just waited until the officers had left before resuming his murderous intentions.

"What we can say for certain is that more could and should have been done for Joanna, who was denied the opportunity for a prompt response which may have led to a different outcome."

Mr Davies said both police forces had accepted the service received by Ms Michael was below standard and have put in place a mechanism to help them overcome "these rare technical glitches".

Williams murdered Ms Michael after breaking into her house and finding her with another man.

He was jailed for life and must service a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Image caption Joanna was stabbed to death by Cyron Williams in a 'frenzied attack'

In a joint statement, Gwent Police and South Wales Police said they fully acknowledged the IPCC's findings and disciplinary proceeding were under way into the actions of two call handlers.

The statement read: "Uppermost in all our minds today is Joanna Michael.

"As the first anniversary of Joanna's death approaches, our thoughts are with her children, her wider family and all her friends as they continue to rebuild their lives as best they can following her tragic murder by Cyron Williams."

Ms Michael's family issued a statement via their lawyer, Hywel Williams, which said they were carefully considering the report.

The statement said: "It seems to be clear that the police could have attended at Joanna's house within five minutes of her first emergency call which would have been around 10 minutes before she was in fact murdered.

"The report also makes it clear that the two police forces involved had confused and contradictory procedures for dealing with such emergency calls, which we believe tragically led to her death.

"We desperately hope that the IPCC recommendations are urgently acted upon by these police forces and others so that everything possible is done to prevent any further avoidable tragedies."

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