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16 July 2014, 14:35
Police missed opportunities to protect a woman from her jealous estranged husband before he stabbed her to death at her high street hair salon, a review has found.
Former policeman Ivan Esack knifed Natalie Esack, 33, up to 11 times in front of her colleague because he could not cope with her being with someone else.
The 8in (20cm) blade bent and the tip broke off under the ferocity of the attack at Esack Hair and Beauty in High Street, Ashford, Kent.
Following the stabbing in April 2012, Esack - who was jailed for life with a minimum term of 28 years - told her colleague: "She deserved it, the bitch."
In the period before the killing, his trial at Maidstone Crown Court was told how he referred to Mrs Esack as a "dead woman walking" and added: "Tick tock, tick tock."
Now a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) has revealed that there were "a number of missed opportunities to take more assertive action to protect'' Mrs Esack from him.
Kent Police could have arrested Esack in October 2011 after Mrs Esack visited a police station to report unwanted contact from him after they had split up, it said.
The report said Esack constantly phoned her, made a threat to kill her and threatened to go to her brother's house where she was staying or her workplace.
The volatility of their relationship had escalated since he quit the police service.
And he had attacked her in the past but she had not reported them to the police, the review added.
Mrs Esack also disclosed to officers that Esack invited her via text message to join in a "threesome" with a man he had started a sexual relationship with, it added.
Police who deemed the incident as a "medium" risk gave her "advice on how to deal with domestic abuse", the review said, and it was suggested she send Esack a text saying all contact should now be through her solicitor.
When police visited Esack that day, he apologised for sending her the texts, but claimed she had provoked him, and he was not arrested.
The review said that Kent Police could have arrested Esack for sending malicious communications or issued him with an harassment warning.
In February 2012, a depressed Esack turned up at her father's home, where she was staying, carrying a knife and threatening to slit his throat.
"This should have resulted in further investigation into an offence of possession of an offensive weapon," the report added.
The last incident reported to Kent Police before her death came in March 2012 when Esack turned up at Mrs Esack's father's house and refused to leave.
Her friend told the operator that the previous day Esack had visited Mrs Esack's workplace and throttled her until she lost consciousness, but the incident had not been reported.
When police attended her father's property, Mrs Esack did not want to take any action against Esack.
The officer said the control room had not passed him the information about the alleged strangulation and he had not viewed his computer assisted despatch, the review noted.
The report said that some information had not been collated.
It went on: "Had all the information been collated, the... risk assessment in March 2012 should have been graded 'high' risk and a multi-agency risk assessment conference should have been convened to assess all the risks and devise a multi-agency safety place for (Mrs Esack).
"Also, the alleged strangulation should have been investigated by Kent Police."
The review said there was "evidence of escalating abuse" to Mrs Esack in the six months before her death and police should have investigated the incidents in March 2012 more fully despite her reluctance.
It was not possible to say that Mrs Esack's death could have been prevented, the review went on.
But it noted: "Nevertheless, they might have provided an opportunity for specialist domestic abuse services to work with (Mrs Esack) to devise a safety plan, which included her family and friends.
"Likewise, they could have resulted in services for (Esack) to address his abusive behaviour.
"Investigation of the alleged strangulation might have resulted in (Esack) being prosecuted and receiving a custodial sentence, thereby affording protection to (Mrs Esack)."
A series of recommendations were made in the review, including reminding officers of their responsibility to achieve "a proper standard of investigation".
The review also praised some areas of the police's work, including highlighting how officers persisted to see Mrs Esack, and removed Esack's shotgun and licence in November 2011.
Detective Superintendent Tim Smith, of Kent Police, said: "The DHR has rightly highlighted missed opportunities by Kent Police when investigating the domestic abuse Natalie suffered.
"As a result, policy changes have been made and been in place for some time now.
"Natalie's death is a tragedy and she was murdered by her estranged husband who was intent on killing her."