A woman who was strangled and beaten to death by her husband contacted police NINE times before she was killed, the police watchdog revealed in a damning report.
Anne-Marie Birch, 47, made her final contact with police just six hours before her husband Lee Birch, 55, murdered her.
She called 999 to say he was hiding in her garden despite a restraining order banning him but Kent Police were not immediately sent.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report released yesterday (Thurs) revealed the force failed to properly handle or log reports from frightened Anne-Marie.
Birch admitted manslaughter but was convicted of murder and jailed for life in April 2014.
Anne-Marie made nine reports to police between September 7, 2013, and the day of her murder, November 7.
On the morning of her death, the mum-of-one contacted the force to report that 55-year-old Birch was outside her home in Ramsgate, Kent.
But the IPCC found the call had been answered by a trainee call handler, named as T1, at 8.32am and was not been properly logged, leaving out key details.
The report said: “The information recorded on the log by T1 shows that important details of what Mrs Birch said during the call were not accurately reflected on the record with considerable detail left out.”
Despite the call warranting urgent police attention, the caller failed to send officers.
He instead decided it could wait until 6pm when officers were due to visit to discuss continued harassment.
By 2.04pm her body was found in a field near her home.
He was previously issued a restraining and non molestation order on October 3, 2013, by Canterbury Magistrates’ Court after he began to harass Anne-Marie.
She told police the previous month when the torment began that she was planning to divorce him after their 20-year marriage had broken down.
Annie-Marie lived at their Ramsgate home with the couple’s teenage daughter while Birch lived in a van and initially their split was “amicable”.
But he grew jealous and obsessive after believing she was seeing someone else, and threatened to kill any man she was with.
The IPCC said it uncovered problems including a lack of awareness among call centre staff about non-molestation orders banning Birch from contacting his wife.
The report also found some officers who spoke with Mrs Birch in person before the order was imposed may have failed to identify or investigate potential offences committed by Birch, including harassment and making threats to kill.
Officers told Anne-Marie that they could not take action against her husband until the order appeared on their police systems.
This was despite the fact officers had been shown a threatening note Birch had written on the order itself, which he had posted through her door on September 21.
The report concluded these failings by officers may have warranted the bringing of “unsatisfactory performance procedures” against them.
IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said: “Ultimately it is Lee Birch who takes full responsibility for the campaign of harassment against Anne-Marie which culminated in her tragic death.
“Our investigation found that Kent Police could have performed better when Anne-Marie called them for help and we have made 12 recommendations to the force highlighting important areas where its practices can be improved.
“We have also agreed with Kent Police that eight individual officers and three call centre workers should receive specific learning points so the mistakes made in this case are not repeated in the future.”
A spokesperson for Kent Police said the report makes for “disappointing reading”.
He said: “The IPCC report into how Kent Police handled certain aspects of Anne-Marie Birch’s contact with us prior to her murder makes for disappointing reading.
“We aim to put victims at the heart of everything we do and clearly there were steps we could have taken to improve the service Anne-Marie received when she had concerns about her estranged husband’s behaviour.
“As soon as it became clear there were areas needing improvement, those improvements were made and they have been in place for a significant period of time.
“While Kent Police recognises it could have offered a better service to Anne-Marie, it became clear in our investigation that her estranged husband had a very determined and clear intention to do her serious harm.
“Our sympathies remain with her family and those who were close to her.”
Show Comments (0)