Police officers found guilty of gross misconduct for failing to protect victim of domestic homicide

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Rajeev Thacker was instructed by Sophie Naftalin of Bhatt Murphy representing the family of Linah Keza.

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Linah Keza was stabbed to death on 31 July 2013 by her former partner David Gikawa. David Gikawa is now serving a life sentence for her murder, which followed years of abusive behaviour which was known to the police.

Three officers have now been found guilty of gross misconduct arising out of failures to protect Linah.

In the week before her death Linah had called the police seven times asking for their protection from Gikawa who was stalking her. She had explained that he carried a knife, that he was capable of killing someone and that she was “so scared that she could not breathe”.

During the early hours of 29 July 2013 two officers PC Brown and PC Moore attended Linah’s house. The misconduct panel found that these officers failed to seize evidence or record details of witnesses, and that they failed to take appropriate steps to arrest Gikawa. The panel found that these failures cumulatively amounted to gross misconduct.

The panel stated in their reasoning that "PC Brown and PC Moore significantly underestimated the risk that David Gikawa posed Linah Keza. This was a serious misjudgement by them of the situation".

On 30 July 2013 Gikawa called the police to arrange police attendance when he collected his possessions from Linah’s home. Recorded on Gikawa’s profile was a note stating that he had been harassing Linah and carrying a large knife. PS Rogers spoke to Gikawa and agreed with him that he could attend Linah’s house without the police. On 31 July 2013 Gikawa stabbed Linah to death.

The panel found that the PS Rogers had agreed that Gikawa could attend the house without police assistance, that he should have expressly told him not to and that he thereafter lied about this agreement to the IPCC. The panel found that these actions amounted to gross misconduct.

Each of the officers will receive a final written warning.

In November 2018 Linah’s family reached a settlement with the Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis which included an award of damages, together with an apology, assurances that lessons will be learned from Linah’s case including by way of using her case as a training tool. As part of the settlement, Linah’s family and the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis agreed to release a  joint  public  statement  which  can  be seen here.
 
Linah’s brother and sister, Susan Asiimwe and Ivan Kigenza said:

“We blame no-one but David Gikawa for taking Linah’s life. But Linah trusted the police and they let her down. Although we are disappointed that no officer will lose their job, after six years of fighting, we are grateful that there has been some individual accountability for the failure to protect her. The Metropolitan Police Service has also accepted that there were failings in her case and apologised to us. We hope that Linah’s case can be used as an example for change and learning and that something positive can come out of our terrible loss”.

Sophie Naftalin, solicitor for the family said:

“This finding of gross misconduct sends an important message to front line police officers that they can be held to account if they fail to properly assess risk in domestic abuse cases. The Metropolitan Police Service has accepted that there were serious failings in Linah’s case and that lessons will be learned. For these assurances to be meaningful they need to invest in the resources and training to ensure that officers on the ground understand how to assess risk and investigate the criminal offences in domestic abuse cases, such as harassment, stalking and coercive control”.

This case was reported in the Guardian.

Rajeev Thacker is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Claims Against the Police and Public Authorities Team.

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