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Last Updated: Friday, 28 April 2006, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Murdered woman 'failed' by police
Hayley Richards
Hayley Richards was three months pregnant when she was killed
Police have been strongly criticised for failing to protect a pregnant woman who was murdered by her boyfriend a week after he attacked her.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has upheld two complaints by the family of Hayley Richards against Wiltshire Police.

It said institutional failings led to a failure to arrest Hugo Quintas and it said the investigation was poor.

Wiltshire Police have apologised and said lessons would be learnt.

Ms Richards was attacked in her Trowbridge flat by Quintas, a Portuguese factory worker, in June 2005.

She needed hospital treatment for neck injuries.

We feel very bitter and angry about the week before Hayley was murdered
Paul Richards, Hayley's brother

Ms Richards told police where they could find Quintas, but officers who could have responded were already dealing with a report of a dog locked in a car and were not then re-deployed to arrest him.

Quintas cut the 23-year-old's throat a week later.

Ms Richards' brother Paul Richards said: "We feel very bitter and angry about the week before Hayley was murdered."

Speaking on Friday, Chief Constable Martin Richards, admitted there had been failings.

International manhunt

"There was certainly one occasion, when Hayley rang police to tell us Quintas' whereabouts on 7 June, that we had a good chance of arresting him, but we didn't act fast enough.

"In essence, at that moment, we made the wrong decision and for that I am deeply sorry."

He said the force had already made changes in line with the IPCC recommendations about training, supervision and support provided to staff.

A police sergeant and a civilian member of the force are facing disciplinary action over the case.

"No-one could ever have foreseen or predicted that Quintas would kill Hayley," the chief constable said.

"The IPCC reaches the same conclusion. Even if we had arrested Quintas following the assault, it can only be a matter of speculation whether that would have changed his intentions or behaviour.

"But we could have done more for Hayley."

Quintas, 25, fled to Portugal the day after the murder.

Following an international manhunt, he was eventually arrested by Spanish border police.

Last month, he was convicted of Ms Richards' murder and jailed for life. The judge set a minimum term of 17 years behind bars.

Your comments:

I was in an abusive relationship I did the same told police where he was working &where he was staying the police did nothing. They also told me I could press charges for harassment for voice mail's and text messages so I took my mobile to the police station again they did nothing. I lost my business and my home because of that man police allowed him to walk away scott free every time.

When is Domestic Violence going to be taken seriously? I know several women that have suffered at the hands of their partner or ex-partner and have not been taken seriously by a variety of authorities. How many people have to die at the hands of their partners or ex partners before Domestic Violence is taken seriously? As much as I love animals, I find it ridiculous that an animal's welfare was put above that of a woman in fear of her safety. That is now a matter for the officers involved and their conscience.

I'm disappointed that the Chief Constable is saying that it is only a matter of speculation that by arresting this man that it would have changed his behaviour. I agree that there is no proof to suggest this. The fact that he had already committed a crime and that Ms Richards was brave enough to contact the Police should have been enough to arrest him. Perpetrators of Domestic Violence think that once they get away with it they are above the law. If Quintas was arrested within a week of committing the first reported act it would have made him realise that the Police take Domestic Violence seriously. No one could have forseeen that Quintas would murder Ms Richards but the fact that he had already assaulted her would make you think that he was certainly capable of violence. Another brave woman that has died needlessly due to a failure in the system.
Melanee, Chesterfield UK

Pregnant women are in special need of protection; in may opinion any offence committed against a pregnant woman should be treated as an offence again two persons and should merit double the penalty.
Georgina , Istanbul, Turkey

After reading your story I feel nothing but bitterness, we expect the police force to protect us but this just shows how much we can really rely on them. We read similar stories here in Toronto as well, I agree it might not have solved the problem but it would have bought Ms Hayley some time. How could someone kill a human being who is carrying a baby. This is just horrendous. My heart goes out the Ms. Hayley's family, this person deserves to be behind bars for the rest of his life.
Farida, Toronto, Canada

I can't believe these police constables, someone calls them for an assistance instead, they judge by heart? Its really amazing. I would advise the police whenever they hear an alarm to activate quickly.
Kaliisa David, Bujumbura ,Burundi.

Earlier this year, I had to submit a formal complaint to the police to force them to progress a report made to them of an (alleged) serious physical assault by an adult male on a 13 year old girl. Sadly, I do not expect the Police to give priority to serious crime - I have lost trust and confidence in them. The events leading up to Hayley's tragic death, should be a warning to us all.
T, Bristol

The police did not do their job. The murder would have been averted somehow. I feel terribly sorry for the bereaved family. Ouintas should be brought to book. the police should be more responsive to their duties. the same kind of attitude is common to police officer even here, that is not good at all.
Amamgbo, Abia State, Nigeria

It's just another example of domestic violence not being taken seriously. It's not surprising when two women die every week and the issue is still virtually ignored.
Maxine, Cambridge

It's very annoying that the Police let this woman get killed. Life imprisonment cannot suffice for that. Life has been lost and that was supposed to be evitable. For the Chief Constable to say that no one could have predicted Quintas would kill Harley is rubbish. After he attacked a week earlier, wasn't that sign enough? I'm really greatly disappointed. The Police have proved themselves useless. I have to stop before I pour out more venom

Quote : "The IPCC reaches the same conclusion. Even if we had arrested Quintas following the assault, it can only be a matter of speculation whether that would have changed his intentions or behaviour." Absolute rubbish. Just six days before she was killed, Hayley Richards dialled 999 and said her boyfriend had tried to strangle her. Police incompetence at its worst.
Richard Everett, Worthing

It is all good and well "Wiltshire Police have apologised and said lessons would be learnt" - the fact remains two lives were lost here which cannot be retrieved. How are they going to compensate for that! This country has got to put victims and their families and the law abiding citizens of this country first. When you commit a crime you give up your rights. What about this unborn child's right to live? What about this mother's right to live and raise her child? Wake up Britain before it is too late!
Sharon, Sutton

It never ceases to amaze me how the police appear to take the easy option (in this case a dog locked in a car). A minor traffic accident with clearly no injuries (all stood around OK) often attracts 3 to 5 police vehicles, often causing further delays.
Arthur Stagg, Wokingham, England

What happened to Hayley Richards is tragic. The police have apologized for their inaction but what is missing in her story is the clear fact that police cannot provide individual protection no matter how capable they might be. Is the British government somehow responsible for her death because it prohibits its subjects the capability for self defense that I have here in Virginia?
Joseph L. Bass, Suffolk, Virginia USA

Hayley's brother comments on the police handling of the case

Killer wiped out two generations
29 Mar 06 |  Wiltshire
Man murdered pregnant girlfriend
29 Mar 06 |  Wiltshire
Accused 'cut girlfriend's throat'
13 Mar 06 |  Wiltshire
Hayley suspect brought back to UK
29 Jun 05 |  Wiltshire
'Prime suspect' was not arrested
13 Jun 05 |  Wiltshire
Hunt for pregnant woman's killer
13 Jun 05 |  Wiltshire

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