Inquiry after police admit missing chances to arrest murder suspect

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The Independent Online

Detectives' handling of the murder of a pregnant woman is to be investigated after police admitted that they had missed chances to arrest her ex-boyfriend and prime suspect in the case.

Hayley Richards, 23, was found murdered in her home in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, on Saturday afternoon. Her throat had been cut, and an international manhunt is now under way for her ex-boyfriend, Hugo Quintas, who is believed to have left the UK for his native Portugal.

Six days before Ms Richards' body was found, she had reported being assaulted by Mr Quintas, telling police that although she was unharmed, she was pregnant and frightened. Peter Vaughan, assistant chief constable of Wiltshire Police, said officers went to her home within an hour and escorted her to hospital. "She was not felt to be in any immediate danger because her boyfriend had departed," he said.

In the following days, Ms Richards, who was three months pregnant, was kept informed as police searched for Mr Quintas. Her family raised the alarm after she failed to turn up to work on Saturday. Detectives said yesterday they were looking for a murder weapon.

Mr Vaughan said two chances to arrest Mr Quintas following the alleged attack had been missed. "Since Hayley's death, it has been discovered that during the course of the investigation there were potential opportunities for other officers, not directly involved in this investigation, to arrest Hugo Quintas, which were not taken."

Mr Vaughan said this was a "cause for concern" and that the force had referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for a full investigation. No officers involved in the case had been suspended from duty.