Coroner criticises GMP over deaths of two boys

Delayno and Romario Mullings-Sewell (L-R)
Image caption Delayno and Romario Mullings-Sewell were found dead in November 2008

A mistake by police call handlers may have contributed to the deaths of two boys who were killed by their mother, the Manchester coroner has said.

Romario Mullings-Sewell, two, and his four-month-old brother Delayno were stabbed by their mother, Jael Mullings, in Cheetham Hill on 12 November 2008.

Coroner Nigel Meadows said her distress call to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) should have had a quicker response.

A senior GMP officer said the force was "puzzled" by the criticism.

Mullings, 21, who had paranoid schizophrenia, had previously admitted manslaughter with diminished responsibilities.

On the morning the children's bodies were found, she had telephoned Cheetham Medical Centre in an "agitated state". She later made two further phone calls to the practice.

A doctor went to her house and found her with a "very strange and agitated look in her eyes" but she refused help.

Police 'neglect'

Staff at the surgery then called 999. The call was given a "grade two" status by police, with a scheduled response time within an hour. Police took 90 minutes to respond to the call.

The coroner said the call should have been given grade one status, with a response time of 10 minutes.

He recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing, which he said was contributed to by "neglect" by Greater Manchester Police.

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said that while the force's thoughts remained "with the family, Greater Manchester Police is puzzled by today's verdict".

She said: "The police's handling of this matter was immediately referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission at the time and was fully investigated.

"Whilst lessons can always be learned in such tragic circumstances, the IPCC found no evidence of any misconduct.

"At the request of the coroner, the IPCC reviewed the circumstances for a second time. Again there was no evidence of any misconduct and the review found that the decision-making in this case was reasonable in the circumstances that were known at the time."

Speaking through their solicitor, Mullings's family said they were satisfied with the verdict. Mullings has been detained indefinitely at a secure hospital.

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