Page last updated at 20:44 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Stab death Rugby woman failed by Warwickshire police

Colette Lynch
Mother-of-three Colette Lynch died in February 2005

An inquest jury has criticised social services and Warwickshire police after a woman was killed by her ex-partner.

Colette Lynch, 24, died in 2005 after being stabbed outside her home in Rugby, just days after calling police with concerns about Percy Wright.

She told police she needed urgent help after he threatened her. The 37-year-old later admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

A verdict of unlawful killing was recorded.

Officers disciplined

Her brother Joseph Lynch said on the day his sister was killed he rang police 12 times asking them to help her. The family say they now want a public inquiry into what happened.

Sarah Ricca, the family's solicitor, told BBC News that it was one of the worst cases of multi-agency failings that she had encountered.

Two police officers have since been disciplined for their failure to follow procedure.

Ms Lynch's mother, Helen, had told the 10-week inquest she and her daughter had made several calls to police on the night Wright threatened Ms Lynch, but were told officers could not come out because they were particularly busy.

Helen Lynch said her daughter died in despair

She said Colette came to her home late at night on 1 February 2005 with blood in her hair and on her face.

Her daughter told her she had cut herself, escaping through a broken window at her home after Wright threatened to slice her throat, the inquest heard.

But despite a number of violent incidents involving Wright and continuing threats to Ms Lynch, her family said no action was taken.

Ms Lynch was later stabbed in the chest by Wright as he held their young child on 5 February.

He was released from a secure mental unit in April this year.

Warwickshire Police said it had made significant improvements to the way it handled domestic violence cases since the death of Ms Lynch in 2005.

'Do your job'

It has set up a centralised domestic abuse unit and in 2007 the force was rated one of the best in the country for protecting people from domestic abuse.

The force also introduced a sanctuary scheme to offer better home security to people at risk from domestic abuse.

A spokesman said there was now a stringent monitoring system and training in place to ensure the handling of domestic violence cases always adhered to the force's policy and the national best practice.

Speaking after the inquest verdict, Ms Lynch's brother Joseph said: "How can we be sure that any new improved policies will protect people, when we know that the old policies were never implemented and sometimes not even known about?

"The message we have is clear, do your jobs properly and prevent the preventable."

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