Maria Stubbings murder: Brother wins fraction of claim against police

image copyrightEssex Police
image captionMaria Stubbings was described by her brother Manuel Fernandez as "a fabulous human being"

A man who sued police over the "emotional impact" of his sister's murder has won a fraction of the £900,000 damages he sought.

Manuel Fernandez, 52, claimed the death of Maria Stubbings led to his redundancy and caused "depression, feelings of injustice and anger".

Ms Stubbings, 50, was strangled with a dog lead in 2008 by Marc Chivers, who had killed a previous girlfriend.

Essex Police has been ordered to pay £20,000 of "non-pecuniary damages".

Speaking after the ruling, Mr Fernandez said it "brings closure to an 11-year battle to extract the truth".

The businessman took Essex Police to court after they were found to have made "serious" failures leading to his sister's death.

The force had originally offered £50,000 to settle.

image captionManuel Fernandez, pictured in an earlier BBC interview, was not in court to hear the judgement

Ms Stubbings, from Chelmsford, was killed in December 2008 by her ex-partner Chivers who met her after his release from a 15-year prison sentence in Germany for killing another woman in 1992.

A report published in 2013 by the Independent Police Complaints Commission - now the IOPC - said the force "should have been far more proactive" to protect her.

Judge Alper Riza QC, speaking at Central London County Court, ruled out awarding Mr Fernandez for loss of earnings, saying he lost his job "in consequence of a perceived need" by his employer, technology firm FICO.

He rejected "as naive" Mr Fernandez's claim his "only interest is justice, not money".

Mr Fernandez said he was "not surprised" by the judgement, adding that he "disagreed with a lot of the findings".

"In one respect, I think there's a major victory in that we paved the way for other victims of failures of the state to claim for non-pecuniary damages," he said.

Non-pecuniary damages are compensation for losses that cannot be calculated in monetary value - such as pain or grief.

image copyrightContributed
image captionMarc Chivers was given a whole life sentence in 2009 for Ms Stubbings murder

The judge agreed the police's "failure to protect life was serious" and that "caused him even to say that he holds them more responsible than the murderer".

In total, Mr Fernandez was awarded £20,000, plus £850 for therapy for his depression.

The force had accepted Mr Fernandez was an "indirect victim" of its failure to protect Ms Stubbings, and said it had since increased the size of specialist teams working on domestic abuse cases.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: "We are acutely aware and sympathetic to the effects losing a loved one in such tragic circumstances can have on their relatives.

"Since Maria's tragic death Essex Police has made strides to improve it's safeguarding of people subject to domestic abuse and learn from the circumstances leading up to her murder."

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