Tyne & Wear

Sunderland carer murder: Police cleared over victim contact

Shrewsbury Crescent
Image caption The bodies were discovered at a house on Shrewsbury Crescent in Sunderland

A watchdog has cleared police officers after a husband murdered his estranged wife days after he was arrested for allegedly raping her.

Alan Martin, 53, beat and strangled his wife Kay, 49, at the home they once shared in Sunderland in September 2018. He was found hanged in the house.

Inquests concluded she was unlawfully killed and he committed suicide.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said officers involved in the case acted properly.

During the inquest into the death of carer Mrs Martin, who was referred to by her maiden name Richardson at the request of her family, it emerged officers gave her husband back his house keys having questioning him over the rape.

Northumbria Police said officers had no option to keep them from him, despite him having a history of domestic violence, as he jointly owned the property.

Sunderland coroner Derek Winter said he would be writing to the Home Office over concerns about what powers police should be able to exercise when women are abused by their partners.

The inquest heard Mr Martin, who was living away from the matrimonial home, used his keys to get into the house in Shrewsbury Crescent on 20 September 2018 and lay in wait for his wife.

When she returned home from work he attacked her with a hammer and strangled her.

He was later found hanged by police who forced their way into the property.

In a statement after the inquest, the IOPC said: "We have completed our investigation that looked at the contact between Northumbria Police and Kay Richardson before her death.

"The investigation was completed in May this year and did not find any evidence of misconduct by any individual officer."

Northumbria Police said: "The IOPC carried out a full investigation and found none of the officers involved had a case to answer.

"Our thoughts remain with the family of Kay Richardson who sadly lost her life in these tragic circumstances."

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