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Murder victim Becky McPhee 'failed by Merseyside Police'

A series of police blunders contributed to the death of a woman who was murdered by her estranged husband after years of domestic abuse.

Becky McPhee, 47, was stabbed to death by Paul Holmes in 2012 following "serious failings" by Merseyside Police, the police watchdog said.

Over two years, 17 events involving Ms McPhee and Holmes were recorded.

The report found a senior officer would have faced a misconduct hearing if he had not already retired.

A lack of a coordinated response and leadership meant that opportunities to take more preventative action against Holmes - who is now serving a life sentence - were missed, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found.

Incidents reported to the police between 12 January 2010 and 5 January 2012 included an assault where Ms McPhee said she believed it was only a matter of time before she was killed.

Holmes was arrested a number of times and measures were put in place to protect Ms McPhee but Merseyside Police's responses to his repeated breaches of bail conditions were "ineffective and uncoordinated", the report said.

'Escalating cycle'

The IPCC found officers performed tasks they were not properly trained to carry out, information was sometimes not recorded properly and handovers between different officers were inadequate.

The performance of Insp Grahame Abram, who was responsible for the police search for Holmes on the day Ms McPhee was murdered, was also criticised.

The IPCC found Mr Abram had a case to answer for misconduct. As he is now retired, he will not face a hearing.

James Dipple-Johnstone, the IPCC Commissioner for Merseyside, said: "The behaviour of Paul Holmes matched the classic patterns of someone at the end stages of an escalating cycle of domestic violence, but this was not recognised.

"When it really mattered she was let down by poor training and procedures."

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Pilling said the force "fully accepts all the recommendations of the IPCC report and will do all we can to ensure that they are implemented in their entirety".

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