‘My sister was murdered on the school run and failed by everyone’

The sister of a woman stabbed to death on the school run by her psycho ex in a row over child support has slammed the authorities which failed her.

Emma Day, 31, had begged the Child Maintenance Service to deal with her application ‘carefully’ because of repeated threats from her abusive ex-boyfriend Mark Morris.

Despite this the CMS deemed her not to be in "immediate or imminent danger" and contacted Morris almost immediately with no consideration of his potential risk to Emma.

Nine days later she was dead.

Morris, 39, confronted the mum-of-two on the school run and stabbed her to death in the street after chillingly telling her "I'll go to prison before you get a penny from me".

He was jailed for life for her murder in 2017 and now a Domestic Homicide Review has found that the management of her case was “inadequate” and also found wider “systemic issues”.

The damning report found that the CMS’ current response to domestic violence and abuse is "insufficient" and said that "urgent action" is required.

A friend of Emma's told the review: "Emma called them [the CMS] and warned them to be careful handling her claim with Mark because he can be aggressive and will not be happy about this”.

The review found that the issue of child maintenance “appears to have been the most significant precursor to the homicide” in May 2017.

It also discovered a lack of information sharing between the police, council and Gaia Centre (women’s refuge).

Lambeth Council Social Services did not directly address Mark's abuse, according to the review, and a previous Serious Case Review had flagged "not dissimilar findings”.

The Metropolitan Police Service was also criticised for it's "unacceptable procedural issues" which "likely comprised Emma's confidence in the police when she reached out to them”.

These included:

·         Lambeth and Croydon police boroughs ARGUED over who should take the case leading to a delay of 27 DAYS

·         Failure to make another arrest attempt on Morris after they failed to locate him first time

·         Poor management led to missed opportunities to enforce a Non-Molestation Order and investigate whether it had been breached

·         Limited contact with women’s refuge centre

As a result 27 recommendations have been made across multiple agencies.

These are to include an "urgent" independent review into the CMS’s policy and procedure around domestic violence, informed by substantive consultation with victim/survivors and specialist domestic abuse services.

Emma's sister, Lorna McNamara is now demanding a full inquest into her death be held.

"My sister was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend, fuelled by an argument about child support payments," she said.

“It was about money for him. He said he killed her because she contacted the Child Maintenance Service.

“She would never have even asked Mark for money if she didn't need it.

“She had pleaded with him for help."

Lorna said that the domestic homicide review’s findings has supported her fears that more could have been done to protect Emma.

“I knew something was not right with the way Emma was dealt with by the authorities,” she said.

“She had been in contact with the Child Maintenance Service seven months before her death.

“She told them that he was abusive.  

“She made two applications through the Child Maintenance Service.

"After she made the first claim, Mark waited for her outside work, followed her home, shouting and swearing at her on the bus and threatening to kill her.

“As soon as she got home, she called the Child Maintenance Service and cancelled the claim.

“They asked her why, she told them he had followed her home from work and threatened her.

“And they just said 'OK, we'll cancel the claim.'

“There was no further help, no signposting, that was the end of the matter.

"Prior to her death there were several agencies involved who failed to protect her.

"We want to get accountability and transparency from the agencies involved, in particular, the CMS, who deal with so many women who have been victims of abuse and continue to be at risk.

"We want justice for Emma, and her children, and to ensure changes are made so that other families don’t have to suffer as we have."

Lorna is now fundraising through a Crowd Justice campaign to help pay legal costs.

Blasting the Metropolitan Police for their handling of the case Lorna said: “If this [a report to police in April 2016] had been resolved sooner, Emma would have had a bit more confidence that the Police would do something.

"She didn’t feel they took her seriously enough. That’s what this is about. Who knows what would have happened, but it might have made a difference”.

A spokesperson for the Met Police said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is saddened by the tragic death of Emma Day in 2017.

"We want to ensure victims have confidence in how the police will support them.

"The MPS accept the recommendation from the report that there were significant delays in responding to the investigation in 2016.

"This delay may have led in Emma not having confidence in the MPS or engaging further.

"We are committed to improving our response and on receiving the recommendation, immediate steps were put in place to prevent these delays happening again within the MPS."

A DWP spokesperson said: "Our thoughts are with Ms Day's friends and family.

“The Child Maintenance Service takes the safety of its clients very seriously.  We have updated our processes and delivered additional training to staff to mitigate risks to people who are experiencing domestic violence when we are progressing their child maintenance cases. We will continue to review and update our processes and training in line with best practices.”

A Refuge spokesperson said: "Refuge would like to extend its sincere condolences to Emma’s family. This is a heart-breaking case in which a family has tragically lost a sister and a mother as a result of a brutal homicide at the hands of her ex-partner.                                            

"As acknowledged in the report, Refuge worked with Emma to provide extensive support; support that we provide to many other victims of domestic violence.

"Refuge welcomes the report and the recommendations made therein.  Such reports are a key part of the continual review process used by all relevant agencies to maximise the protection of the women and children we support.

"The Gaia Centre, in Lambeth, responded to over 3,000 referrals in 2016/17 to women and their children experiencing gender based violence. 

"Refuge works closely with agencies, such as police, social services, NHS and voluntary agencies in Lambeth to provide support. It is vital that we continue to work together and learn lessons to prevent such tragedies from occurring."

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: “Sophia’s (Emma's) death was a tragedy, and her family and friends have suffered a great loss. Our thoughts and sympathy remain with them, at what has been an extremely difficult time.

“The review examined the actions of a number of agencies who had contact with Sophia before her death and identified four key areas where the response could have been better.

“All of the agencies that took part in the review fully accept the report’s findings, including the recommendations for improvements in the future. All of the agencies involved take their responsibility to learn and to act on the recommendations made. In line with these recommendations, a number of improvements have already been made, including;

·        The Child Maintenance Service (CMS), Lambeth Children’s Social Care and Lambeth and Croydon police officers have undertaken training relating to domestic abuse and assessing and managing risk.

·        The Gaia Centre has completed audits into their approach to domestic abuse and have reviewed and updated their policies and procedures accordingly.

·        Lambeth Council are offering a wide range of free domestic abuse training to practitioners in Lambeth including sessions on responding to economic abuse and understanding protective orders.

“The agencies involved will demonstrate how the panel’s recommendations will be put into action through an action plan, with progress reported on to the Safer Lambeth Partnership within six months of the review being approved.

“We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the domestic homicide review at such a difficult time.

“Above all we want this review to help us to provide better support to anyone who may be experiencing domestic violence. We would urge anyone who is experiencing such abuse to tell someone and access the support that is available.”

To donate to Lorna's Crowd Justice campaign click here .

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