Nicholas Churton murder: Officer cleared of misconduct

  • Published
Jordan Davidson and Nicholas Churton
Image caption,
Jordan Davidson (left) killed Nicholas Churton (right) at his Wrexham flat

A custody officer who released an ex-prisoner on bail days before he murdered a vulnerable man has been cleared of misconduct.

Jordan Davidson killed Nicholas Churton, 67, at his home in Wrexham in March 2017, four days after being arrested for carrying a knife.

Davidson, 27, was on licence from prison following a burglary conviction.

Reports released by the police watchdog revealed they had recommended misconduct hearings for the officer.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) had found the custody sergeant - only referred to as "A" in the reports - had a case to answer for failing to properly record and assess the information about Davidson the day he was arrested.

However the case was found to be not proven by an independent panel.

Davidson went on to brutally attack Mr Churton, who was classed as vulnerable, using a machete and a hammer.

He is serving 30 years for murder and 12 other offences.

North Wales Police said lessons had been learned from this "tragic incident".

What do the reports say?

Six police officers and staff were referred by the IOPC after the death of former wine bar owner Mr Churton, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Davidson was caught with a blade but released on bail, despite two previous knife offences on his record, 12 previous offences committed on previous bails and having come onto North Wales Police's radar eight times after his release on licence.

Image caption,
Mr Churton, who lived alone, was found dead in his living room by a friend

He also committed armed robberies, burglaries and assaulted an off-duty security guard with a hammer before being tackled by two officers at a Flint garage.

"A" did not ask for a nurse to see Davidson after he revealed during a risk assessment he had psychosis and anti-social personality disorder and was not taking his medication.

Investigators said the sergeant, who had no recollection of Davidson's time in custody, did not ensure Davidson had an appropriate adult or give enough consideration to the fact he was on licence when he made the decision to bail him.

A police constable, a sergeant and an acting inspector were also cleared of misconduct and censured for unsatisfactory performance.

One of the reports listed actions the custody sergeant had not taken, including:

  • not remanding Davidson in custody as, in his view, a magistrate's court "wouldn't have remanded him", which the IOPC said did not reflect an understanding of their responsibilities" or "relevant legislation"
  • didn't take into account his 12 previous offences committed while on bail
  • didn't take into account his two convictions for possessing a knife
  • not contacting the Probation Service or the Community Rehabilitation company regarding his bail conditions
  • not contacting a nurse despite Davidson telling him he had psychosis and a personality disorder and was not taking his medication.

The IOPC said: "It was our opinion that a reasonable tribunal could find that this apparent failure to record and assess relevant information amounts to a breach of the standard of professional behaviour relating to duties and responsibilities."

'Genuinely sorry'

Another report said a call handler failed to correctly prioritise a call from Mr Churton after Davidson had forced his way into his flat on a previous occasion.

The call on 14 March was not given sufficient priority, was not investigated seriously enough and Mr Churton was told by an officer to ask his friends to find out his assailant's name, says the report.

The call handler left the force before the IOPC concluded its investigation and has since been employed as a police officer.

North Wales Police said it "fully accepts the recommendations" of the IOPC reports.

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki said: "I am genuinely sorry if there was anything more that could have been done as an organisation which might have [prevented] this awful event."

'Tragic incident'

Supt Nick Evans, of the force's professional standards department, said: "We would once again wish to express our condolences to Mr Churton's family.

"North Wales Police has been fully engaged with the IOPC and other partners throughout the investigation to ensure that lessons have been learned from this tragic incident.

"The force fully accepts the recommendations emanating from the IOPC reports, and have already amended policies and procedures as a result."

The Probation Service had said it would write and apologise to the family in April for errors in its dealings with Davidson, after a leaked report highlighted a litany of mistakes.

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