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Newmarket mum Clare Nash's death ruled unlawful killing as inquest jury returns verdict

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An inquest jury has returned a verdict of unlawful killing over the death of a Newmarket woman who was a victim of domestic violence and murdered by her ex-partner.

After more than three days of deliberation, it also identified that police errors had led to insufficient evidence being gathered in a timely manner to progress the investigation into Clare Nash's killer, Charles Jessop, which may have contributed to her death at her home in Brickfields Avenue in January 2020.

Jessop, who stabbed and strangled Ms Nash, is currently serving life imprisonment.

Clare Nash
Clare Nash

The inquest, held in Ipswich, examined the role of Suffolk Police in supporting her before she was murdered.

Giving the verdict the jury foreman said: "A filing error whereby the crime report was put in the incorrect in tray on December 5, 2019, the work tray was insufficiently monitored due to staff shortages which led to a delay in the allocation of the crime report to an officer in charge until December 21, 2019."

He said on the supervisor's review of the entry to interview witnesses at the ex-partner's known address had been left off the task list. "Officers attending a further incident on January 14 were lacking information which may had assisted in their judgement and enabled them to build a case against Clare Nash's ex-partner."

And he added: "The insufficient following of the Suffolk Constabulary's domestic abuse policy, to proactively police and gather evidence from sources other than from the victim, also hindered the progression of reported previous incidents."

However the jury concluded that Suffolk Police had made repeated attempts to make contact with Ms Nash without reply and reports made which assessed the risk to Ms Nash as medium had been completed correctly at the time of reported incidents.

Coroner Jacqueline Devonish said while the jury had identified there were faults on the part of the police they had also made efforts to make contact with Ms Nash without response.

"I am satisfied that there has been significant learning as a direct response to this death and, as such, I do not consider that I need to exercise my powers to write a report to prevent future deaths as the police already have this in hand," she said.

Charles Jessop
Charles Jessop

She said in investigating domestic abuse the Suffolk force wanted a culture that ensured an effective investigation and appropriate outcome for every report of domestic abuse.

"I also heard evidence on a development plan formulated following this murder and aimed at documenting early learning points identified from the review," she added.

She told the hearing: "The superintendent, on behalf of the police force, extended condolences to the family which were graciously accepted by them here in court. I appreciate that gesture."

And to Ms Nash's family, who had been present throughout the two week hearing, she said: " I am deeply, deeply, sorry for your tragic loss.

"I am saddened by the facts of this case and I hope that Clare will be remembered for being that vibrant beautiful young lady full of life and love."

Speaking after the inquest, Clare's father Brian Nash said: "On January 11 of 2020 I spent a fabulous day with my beautiful daughter and grandchildren. Five days later my world was broken - my daughter brutally murdered.

"With her murderer serving a life imprisonment sentence, we stand here today with the acknowledgement her death could have been prevented.

"The inability of the IOPC to recognise police failures has also been proven today.

"I’d like to thank the jury, coroner, my legal team, and the Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse organisation's advocate for their support in bringing attention to these issues."

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman offered the force's apologies to Ms Nash's family.

“Suffolk Constabulary fully accepts the finding of the inquest and our thoughts remain with Clare’s family for their loss and the impact it has had on them," he said.

“We acknowledge there was more we could have done, and should have done, to provide support for Clare in the period leading up to her murder by Charles Jessop. We apologise to Clare’s family for that.

“We do take domestic violence very seriously. Our aim is to do all we can to protect every victim who seeks our help, and we have a range of protective powers that we use to do this.

“Over the past two years we have improved officer training for domestic abuse cases. We have also made, and will continue to make, improvements to enhance our response recognising the risks to, and impact on, domestic abuse victims.

“We fully understand the impact Clare’s death may have on people’s confidence in our response to domestic violence, but we would stress to anyone in a similar situation to Clare – Please continue to trust us. Our officers want to help, protect and support you, and are committed to pursuing perpetrators of domestic violence.”

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here