South East Wales

Force missed chances to help shot wife, IPCC says

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe IPCC said police did not pick up on all the indicators before the fatal shooting

A police force missed chances to help a woman later shot dead by her estranged husband after she told them she was scared of him, a watchdog has found.

Caroline Parry was shot at close range outside her Newport home by husband Christopher Parry in 2013.

She had contacted Gwent Police twice in the months leading up to her death, raising concerns and asking for help.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission found "weaknesses and shortcomings" in the force's actions.

It said the force must improve how it handles domestic abuse, stalking and harassment cases.

Gwent Police said it had already taken steps to improve how it helps victims.

Parry was jailed for 26 years in July 2014 for murdering his wife.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Christopher Parry was jailed for the murder last year

Mother-of-two Mrs Parry, 49, had left her husband after 27 years of unhappiness and moved in with her new partner, Newport Crown Court heard.

But Parry kept his wife "under surveillance" after she left, and in the months leading up to the shooting phoned her persistently.

She had contacted Gwent Police twice, asking for help and raising concerns about Parry's behaviour.


On one occasion in May 2013 - three weeks after she had left Parry and their home in Croesyceiliog near Cwmbran - she contacted police to report that he had followed her to a friend's house.

Mrs Parry said was scared of him and an officer noted that she "appeared anxious".

The IPCC report noted: "She informed the officer that, during their 27 year relationship, her husband had been very jealous, quite controlling and that she was largely unhappy."

She also said that, although she did not feel he was capable of hurting her or their children, he had threatened to shoot himself years before.

Officers spoke to Parry but no further action was taken.

On the morning he killed her, Parry had been waiting for his wife in Seabreeze Avenue, and when he saw her got a semi-automatic shotgun from the boot of his car.

He shot her twice in the back at close range before turning the gun on himself in a suicide attempt which failed, but resulted in horrific head and facial injuries.

Image copyright John Seer
Image caption Emergency services were called to the scene after neighbours heard gunshots in a residential street in Newport

In a report published on Monday, it found that officers who responded to three incidents involving the couple in the run-up to the shooting were not in possession of all relevant information about their past history.

The IPCC said a risk assessment should have classified Mrs Parry as being at high risk of serious harm.

The report also found:

  • Officers should have given consideration to Parry's "coercive and controlling behaviour"
  • The way the force dealt with firearm warnings made victims vulnerable
  • While Mr Parry had held his firearms certificate legally for some years, the number of troubling indicators about his behaviour should have prompted a firearms licensing referral

However, it concluded that despite the shortcomings it is "impossible to say whether Caroline's tragic and brutal death could have been prevented, had Gwent Police dealt differently with Mr Parry".

Complaints made

The IPCC found that one officer had a case to answer for misconduct, which Gwent Police had already dealt with the matter by way of management action.

There were performance issues for two other police constables.

Three complaints made to the IPCC about specific actions of some officers involved in the case were not upheld.

Gwent Police said it continued to work hard to improve how it handled domestic abuse, stalking and harassment cases.

It said all recommendations from the report have already been implemented.

A spokesman said: "These will help us improve the information our officers have when responding to incidents of stalking and harassment and consequently how these incidents are dealt with.

"The recommendations will ensure appropriate risk assessments are carried out and shared, and also that appropriate checks and markers are placed on individuals who hold firearms licenses."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites