Murder victim 'let down' by police mistakes

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The Independent Online

A young father who was shot dead outside his home months after being stabbed by a gang of youths was let down by "serious flaws in the police response," an investigation has found.

The family of Peter Woodhams, a 22-year-old TV engineer, claim the Metropolitan Police failed to adequately investigate the initial incident – in January last year – in which the Mr Woodhams was slashed by a knife across his face and neck after confronting the gang, who threw a stone through his car window.

Ten days after the attack Mr Woodhams told officers: "This has had a dramatic effect on my life. I can't go out any more because I am scared. I am scared for (fiancée) Jane and (son) Sam because they can't go out."

But no one was arrested over the incident and, in August last year, Mr Woodhams was shot and killed outside his home in Canning Town, East London. In May this year, 17-year-old Bradley Tucker was jailed for life for Mr Woodham's murder.

Following the death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC) launched the inquiry into the behaviour of nine officers involved in the case, and last night issued a brief statement announcing that it had found "serious flaws" in the police response. Police failed to "ensure that appropriate investigative opportunities were maximised," the IPPC found.

Among criticisms of the police is the claim that officers failed to make contact with family members or take a statement from Mr Woodham's fiancée Jane, who called police "every day" for five weeks following the murder to provide one, while a list of suspects for the stabbing – provided to the victim's family anonymously – was not properly looked into.

Now, two of the nine officers are the subject of a misconduct hearing, while three – two sergeants and a detective sergeant – have received written warnings for their failings, and a detective constable was given "words of advice".

Mr Woodhams' father, also called Peter, said he was "gobsmacked" about the handling of the earlier attack, and said he held the officers involved "personally responsible" for his son's later death.

And a family friend, Carly Frances, said after Mr Woodhams died last August: "The police have blood on their hands because the first time they let him down and it's too late now."