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KNIFE ATTACK: Police officers accused of failing to support Watford woman after attack

 Published on: 30th October 2023   |   By: Court Reporter   |   Category: Uncategorized

Two Hertfordshire police officers failed to properly deal with a complaint from a Watford woman who was the victim of a frenzied knife attack a month later, a misconduct hearing was told today (Monday, October 30).

PC Dominic Van Der Linden and former PC Mark Coleman were alleged to have been guilty of gross misconduct in the way they handled a breach of a non-molestation by her former partner.

Opening the case at the Focolare Centre for Unity in Welwyn Garden City, barrister George Thomas said the woman, who cannot be named, had gone to Watford police station on August 21, 2021.

The former partner had been recorded, on a ring doorbell, attending her home in Watford on August 19, 2021 – the second time he had breached the order not to go within 100 metres of her home.

Mr Thomas said: “It a matter of record that a month after he (the ex-partner) attempted to murder her in a frenzied attack using a knife.

“The officers failed to deal at all properly with her complaint. No copy was made of the doorbell footage, they failed to take positive action, which would have been likely to arrest him and they failed to refer the matter to the domestic abuse unit.

“They knowingly misled supervisors about the doorbell footage and her willingness to make a complaint.”

Mr Thomas alleged there had been a failure to take steps that could have prevented the subsequent attack.

The hearing was told on August 20, 2021, Ms A dialled 999 and reported that her ex-husband was captured on the ring doorbell visiting her home at approximately 9.51pm on August 19 in breach of his non-molestation order.

He was contacted by telephone by PC Coleman and agreed to abide by the conditions of the order and stay away.

The officers are said to have told a sergeant that Ms A wanted no further action to be taken, but Mr Thomas said she was adamant that she did support a police investigation and wanted him arrested.

The tribunal heard that in 2005 the man had received a caution for kicking his wife. A year later in September 2006, he hit her on the cheek. In December 2006, no evidence was offered in an assault case. In May 2008, a battery and threats to kill case was dismissed after a retraction statement. A battery charge was dismissed in June 2012.

In August 2020 and September 2020 the man attended her home and put his arm around her neck and threatened to kill her.

On 20 October Ms A was granted a non molestation order. He was fined £600 for breaching that order in January 2021 when officers thought he was behaving suspiciously.

All of that information was available to the two PCs, said Mr Thomas. He said the officer who dealt with the January breach of the order had done a much better job.

The tribunal heard PC Van Der Linden was the supervising officer and PC Coleman, who was five weeks into street duties, spoke to the husband.

Barrister Dominic Lewis, for PC Van Der Linden, said it was only PC Coleman who had spoken on the telephone to the man. He said PC Coleman had told him that the husband denied he was there.

Mark Coleman, who has left Hertfordshire police,has not attended the hearing.

Both men deny gross misconduct.

Mr Thomas said: “Both officers are equally responsible for mistakes or failures.

“The evidence she (Ms A) presented to the officers on August 21 was incontrovertible evidence he had breached non-mol order. The most superficial check would have demonstrated he had recently been convicted of breaching non molestation order. “

“It ought to be obvious to both officers that to approach him informally by ringing him up was not going to be effective.

“A formal court process and £600 fine from January had not been effective.

“A warning is utterly, utterly ineffective.”

“The response fell woefully short of minimum standard.”

The hearing is expected to last all week. It is not sitting on Wednesday.

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