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April 16th 2020

Civil Liberties

Police agree to pay damages, but offer no apology for their failure to protect murdered Birmingham woman

Simon Wilson

Simon Wilson

Head of New Claims and Senior Solicitor

Police agree to pay damages, but offer no apology for their failure to protect murdered Birmingham woman

The children of a murdered Birmingham woman have received a five-figure sum from West Midlands Police following a catalogue of police errors prior to her death.

The children of a murdered Birmingham woman have received a five-figure sum from West Midlands Police following a catalogue of police errors prior to her death.

Jenny Oakes, 39, from Rubery, Birmingham, along with her sister Maria (37) and brother Rafi (32), fought for six long years for some recognition from the police that mistakes had been made. Jenny plans to use the money to open up a beauty salon and training academy in memory of her late mother, Jacqueline.

Jacqueline, 51, was found dead in an Edgbaston tower block in January 2014. She died from multiple blunt force injuries after Marcus Musgrove battered her to death. He was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in July 2014.

An IPCC investigation in 2017 found that Jacqueline was let down by a raft of procedural errors and 19 police officers and staff were found to have a case to answer for misconduct. No one lost their job as a result.

A settlement was reached earlier this month on behalf of Jenny, Maria and Rafi by Hudgell Solicitors for breaches under the Human Rights Act.

Jenny Oakes says: “All we ever wanted was for someone to say sorry. Unfortunately, when it comes to the police, I have learnt that sorry is not in their vocabulary. But we were not going to go away, it might have taken us six long years but we were determined to get some recognition from West Midlands Police about the way they treated our mom.

“At first the police refused to even listen to me, just like they did with my mom, but there were too many failings and too much at stake for me to let this go. I had to succeed for my mom and for all the other women out there who suffer domestic abuse.

“I’m not interested in the money. I would have preferred it if those responsible had lost their jobs, but as that rarely happens taking a civil action was the only way to get some form of recognition. The police might not have said sorry but I feel fully vindicated by their decision to settle our case.

“The money will be divided between me, my sister Maria and my brother Rafi. Before my mom died, I had my own beauty salon in Halesowen, but the trauma of losing my mother in such a violent way meant I had to close it down. But now I feel that something positive can come out of what has been a living nightmare and a new positive chapter can begin. I think my mom would be proud of me.”

The settlement comes at a time when the issue of domestic violence is in sharper focus than ever before after charities reported a surge in activity since social distancing guidelines came in.

Jenny adds: “I feel it is more important now than ever before to send a warning out to police forces everywhere about domestic violence in the wake of so many more calls being made to charities since the lockdown.

“Domestic violence can happen to anyone, male or female, young or old, and we have to rely on the police to be our first line of defence. My message to the police is simple: don’t ever assume and always do your research. I feel that my mom was written off and she paid for this with her life.”

Civil liberties and police action solicitor Simon Wilson of Hudgell Solicitors secured the settlement. He says: “All too often I see the devastation left behind after an entirely avoidable death like Jacqueline’s. It makes it all the more important that the police are held to account for their actions.

“I’m pleased for the Oakes family that after a long battle we’ve been able to secure this settlement and that they can move forward and create something positive in memory of their mother.”

Musgrove and Jacqueline first came into contact with one another in April 2013 when he was placed into the same supported accommodation as her.

For the next 10 months, a catalogue of verbal, physical and sexual abuse and harassment by Musgrove were reported by Jacqueline and her friends to West Midlands Police and various support services.

In June, Musgrove was charged with assault and harassment and refused bail for attempting to strangle Jacqueline. The CPS later withdrew the case against Musgrove, unaware of his violent history, and he was released back to the same accommodation.

On 7 January 2014, Jacqueline, who was by now staying with a friend in Edgbaston, reported being raped by Musgrove. He was subsequently arrested but he was released on bail under the condition that he did not approach Jacqueline. Within just over 24 hours police were notified that he had breached his bail when they received a 999 call from a friend of Jacqueline’s. He should have immediately been rearrested, but this didn’t happen until after Jacqueline’s body was found in the early hours of 14 January. She had been battered to death by Musgrove.

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