‘Could Valerie Forde and her daughter’s death have been prevented?’: IPCC concludes investigation into domestic abuse murder

Oswald's Mead mother and baby killing, Homerton

Oswald's Mead mother and baby killing, Homerton - Credit: Archant

Questions have been asked whether a “more robust police response” could have saved the life of a woman who was battered to death by her ex-partner, and their child whose throat he slit – whilst her elder daughter overheard the horrific events on the phone.

Results of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation published today conclude the Met police “failed” Valerie Forde and her 22-month-old child Real Jahzara, who were found murdered in their home in Oswald’s Mead.

Roland McKoy was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison for murder in December 2014 for inflicting “horrific injuries” on his ex-partner before killing their daughter in a fit of “anger and resentment” on March 31 2014 - the date she had asked him to move out of the family home.

In a statement Commissioner Mary Cunneen said: “This was a tragic case and my thoughts are with the family. They were failed by the Community Safety Unit in Hackney and there was evidence of poor performance by a number of officers.

“It is hard to know if a more robust police response prior to, or on the day of, the murder would have saved the woman and her child, but police inaction helped ensure that they were left to deal with the murderer alone when the terrible events of 2014 took place.”

A domestic homicide review by Hackney Council outlined how Ms Forde reported to police seven weeks before her death that McKoy had threatened to set fire to the house and kill them all after she asked him to move out of the house.

But the officer who took her statement recorded there had been “no threats to life” – and had the allegation been reported as a “threat to kill” matter a safety plan would have been drawn up.

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The review states there had been “poor communication and carelessness”, and that the report sat in the work file of an officer who was signed off work with stress for over a month, before being assigned to another officer

“Poor performance was exacerbated by the fact there weren’t enough officers assigned to the unit to deal with the workload,” it reads.

On the day of the murder, Ms Forde’s 28-year-old daughter, who listened in on an open phone-line to the screams of her half-sister and mother as they were being attacked, called 999.

But the call operator failed pass on “critical details” from the call to officers who had arrived at the house quickly within six minutes.

There was then a delay of 40 minutes between their arrival and when they finally forced entry to the flat to find Ms Forde and her daughter dead, and McKoy who had ingested bleach.

W Griffiths, independent chairman of the council’s homicide report said that “unfortunately” for Mrs Forde and her daughter, the Met “did not demonstrate either competence in their duty to investigate the report of a threat to life or a proper understanding of the importance of working collaboratively with partner agencies that could have opened up a second line of defence with children’s social care and other specialists.”

Commander Lucy D’Orsi said: “I have apologised to Valerie’s family for our failings during the investigation into the abuse that Valerie suffered.

“I cannot begin to imagine how difficult this time has been for Valerie’s family and the impact it has had and continues to have upon them.

“An independent review has also been carried out. The learning from that review will assist us in how we deal with some of the most vulnerable members of the community, those who face domestic abuse.”