Stalker Victim's Daughters Lose Damages Fight

10 October 2018, 12:59 | Updated: 10 October 2018, 14:42

judge

The daughters of a woman who was murdered by a stalker in Bury St Edmunds nine years ago, have lost a high court damages battle with police and health authority bosses.

Jessica, Hannah, and Sophie argued their mothers death was preventable, after evidence showed Mary Griffiths was being stalked and harassed by John McFarlane. It also showed Ms Griffiths had called police to tell them she was "really frightened" the day before she was shot in the chest by McFarlane, who'd broken into her home and dragged her out of bed.

The women sued Suffolk Police and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, saying that if proper steps had been taken, their mother would not have been murdered.

But judge Mr Justice Ouseley, has today dismissed their claims after analysing evidence at a High Court trial in London in November 2017.

Police and health authority bosses had disputed the claims against them.

Lawyers from Imran Khan Solicitors had represented the sisters.

A spokesman said lawyers would study the judge's written ruling before making decisions about what to do next.

Mr Justice Ouseley explained, in his ruling, how Ms Griffiths and McFarlane had been friends.

She had "made it clear" that she did not wish their friendship to develop into a romance.

The judge said there had been mental health concerns about McFarlane in the days before the attack on May 6 2009.

At around 6pm on May 5th Ms Griffiths had called police, saying McFarlane was harassing her and that she was "really frightened".

A control room operator had called shortly before 10pm and asked if it would be possible "in view of the resources available" for police not to come that night but the next morning.

Ms Griffiths said that "would be fine".

Shortly before 3am on May 6 McFarlane had broken into her home, armed with an axe and bolt gun, dragged her into the street and shot her in the presence of her children.

Mr Justice Ouseley concluded that there was clearly a risk of harassment and stalking on the night of May 5 but nothing to suggest an "imminent risk" against which police measures were required.

The judge said there was no basis on which the Mental Health Act Assessment Panel ought to have concluded that McFarlane posed a risk to the public because there was a risk that he would kill himself.

Lawyers representing police had told the judge that Ms Griffiths' daughters had a right to criminal injuries compensation.

But they said evidence did not show that police acted unlawfully.

Lawyers representing the trust said there was "no support for the contention" that staff knew or ought to have known that McFarlane was stalking or harassing Ms Griffiths.