Police apology over double murder
A police force has apologised for systematic failings which contributed to the brutal murders of a woman and her two-year-old daughter.
David Oakes, 50, shot dead his ex-partner Christine Chambers, 38, and their daughter Shania at their home in Braintree, Essex, in June last year.
Oakes is serving a whole life sentence after a court heard he "systematically tortured" Ms Chambers for several hours before the shotgun killings. The couple, who had a long history of domestic abuse, were due to appear at a court custody hearing the next day.
On Wednesday the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) published a report highlighting a catalogue of failings within Essex Police when investigating previous incidents involving the couple.
Incidents involving the couple reported to the force over a two-year period were treated in isolation by officers, with the force not taking Ms Chambers' fear of her partner into consideration as a motivation for her not pursuing complaints against Oakes, the report said.
Ms Chambers' father Ken welcomed the report and said he felt the force could have done more to prevent the deaths. However, he praised Essex Police for the way officers investigated the murders.
IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: "The deaths of Christine and Shania Chambers are shocking to us all. It is impossible to say with any certainty whether if individual officers or the force had done things differently, Ms Chambers and Shania would still be alive today.
"While individual police officers could and should have done things better, this is not essentially a failure of individuals, but a failure of systems. The investigation identified a lack of adequate training, insufficient resources allocated to domestic violence cases and poor oversight."
Assistant Chief Constable Maurice Mason offered "our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Christine and Shania Chambers" on behalf of Essex Police. He added: "Essex Police accepts the findings of the IPCC report, and apologises for the failures identified there."
He said: "You would think that a man capable of such horror would have a history of violence. Oakes did not: he had no convictions or cautions for violence. In fact, the IPCC has found that significant 'information concerning Oakes's violence towards Christine Chambers was not available to the police or social services'."