Family of ‘murdered’ woman had to use Google to find sex offending history of fugitive ex-partner

Exclusive: The family of Kelly Faiers say they have been let down by Avon and Somerset Police as search continues for on-the-run sex offender

Alex Ross
Saturday 06 January 2024 18:12 GMT
Richard Scatchard caught on CCTV drinking with girlfriend night before she was found dead

The family of a “loving” mother say they had to resort to Google to find out the man wanted in connection with her alleged murder was a convicted sex offender.

Kelly Faiers, aged 61, was found dead at the home of Richard Scatchard in Minehead on 15 October.

Despite previous convictions for drugging women and sexual abuse, Scatchard was not taken away by police for questioning – and when officers returned to talk to him the following day, he had vanished.

Avon and Somerset Police then launched a public appeal to find the 70-year-old, but did not initially disclose that he was a convicted sex offender.

Speaking to The Independent, the family of Ms Faiers said “failings” by the police to arrest Scatchard at his home and then not to reveal his criminal history had put them and members of the public at risk.

Kelly Faiers was found dead at Richard Scatchard’s home in Minehead on 15 October
Kelly Faiers was found dead at Richard Scatchard’s home in Minehead on 15 October (Avon and Somerset Police)
Ms Faiers had come out of a marriage of more than 20 years when she met Scatchard on a dating app
Ms Faiers had come out of a marriage of more than 20 years when she met Scatchard on a dating app (Faiers family)

They discovered Scatchard’s convictions – including sexual offences in which he drugged his victims – by searching his name on Google.

The family said they have submitted a formal complaint to the force, claiming to have been let down and angry over a lack of support and information provided during the investigation.

Jazmin Faiers, Kelly’s daughter, said: “The police failed to inform us the death was suspicious and put me at risk for four days whilst leaving me living on my own at my mother’s address whilst knowing his criminal past and that he had been to the address on multiple occasions.

“The police issued ‘missing’ notices for Richard claiming this was on a preservation of life basis, yet there were no indicators that he was suicidal and I could have been at significant risk – whose life is more important?

“It took me searching his name on Google to find out his criminal history. We’re the victims, but the system has made us feel like the criminals.”

Richard Scatchard has been missing since the day after Ms Faiers was found dead at his home
Richard Scatchard has been missing since the day after Ms Faiers was found dead at his home (Avon and Somerset Police)

A statement issued on behalf of Ms Faiers’s family, also including daughters Tania Jackson, Laurie Perry and son Michael Faiers, said an initial decision by the force not to report itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct was “an insult to the family”. Last week the force referred itself to the police watchdog.

The statement was issued a day after Ms Faiers’s funeral at South Bristol Crematorium, a short distance from her home in Weston-super-Mare. Tests are yet to reveal how she died but her death is being treated as “suspicious” and is the subject of a murder investigation.

After her marriage of more than 20 years broke down in 2021, the mother-of-four moved to the seaside town and soon began a relationship with Scatchard after meeting him on a dating app. She would meet him a couple of times a month, her family say.

But on 15 October, South Western Ambulance Service was called to his home, and Ms Faiers was pronounced dead at the scene.

Richard Scatchard could be using a fake name
Richard Scatchard could be using a fake name (Avon and Somerset Police)

Having been on the run for several weeks, Crimestoppers added Scatchard to its “most wanted” list, describing him as “dangerous” and offering a reward of £10,000 for information on his whereabouts.

Avon and Somerset Police say Scatchard is considered a risk to the public, specifically women he forms relationships with, and is a regular use of dating apps. In November, the force released CCTV footage of him having a drink at pub in Minehead with Ms Faiers the night before she died.

One line of inquiry for detectives is that Scatchard is being harboured by another woman.

However, as the search continues, Ms Faiers’s grieving family say they are frustrated at the lack of progress and information received from investigating officers.

The family statement continued: “We feel let down and angry with the police that they have played down their role in letting him go and that the subsequent press coverage has been diluted to avoid focus on their actions and errors.

“As a family we want justice and answers that the police have promised us but so far have failed to provide.”

Jazmin said her mother was “loving, always smiling, always happy and would talk to everyone”, adding: “We miss her so much.”

Detective Chief Inspector Jess Aston said the force initially treated Scatchard as a high-risk missing person due to concerns he presented an immediate and serious risk of harm to himself.

She continued: “As our inquiry has progressed, we have become less worried about his welfare and far more concerned about the danger he presents to other people.”

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said it is continuing to conduct searches to find Scatchard in connection with the death of Kelly Faiers in Minehead in October.

The force added: “As previously stated, Scatchard is considered a risk to the public, specifically women he forms relationships with. He is a regular user of dating apps and has previously been convicted of sexual offences in which he administered drugs to his victims to enable his crimes.

“We have received a large number of reported sightings of Scatchard since he was last seen on the morning of Monday 16 October. These have been reviewed, but none have been confirmed as the 70-year-old.

“The National Crime Agency has been supporting our efforts to locate Scatchard by providing specialist advice to help us develop our continuing search plans in a bid to find him.

“Kelly’s death continues to be treated as a murder inquiry at this time. Family liaison officers are in regular contact with her family to keep them updated and to provide support.

“We can confirm we have recently received a complaint from Kelly’s family in respect to the police response. The complaint has been voluntarily referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) on Thursday 4 January.

“Our Professional Standards Department was made aware of the incident and our response at an early stage and we will assist the IOPC in any way we can in relation to the complaint received.”

Scatchard is white, about 5ft 11ins tall, of average build with short grey hair. He has a Scottish accent and has previously claimed to be called Richard Dunlop. Given the amount of time since his last sighting, however, there is a chance he may look dishevelled.

Anyone who sees Scatchard should not approach him, but call 999 and provide the call handler with the reference 5223259285. Anyone who may know where he may be, should call 101 and give the same reference number.

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