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Northamptonshire Police ruled to be in “breach of duty of care” after woman stabbed by ex-partner

A High Court judge ruled the Northampton Police should have warned a woman her ex-partner was outside her home before she was stabbed by him.

Esengul Woodcock took legal action against Northamptonshire Police after she was stabbed seven times by Riza Guzelyurt in March 2015.

She said a neighbour had told police he was “loitering” outside and they should have warned her.

The Northamptonshire force disputed her claim but Mr Justice Ritchie ruled in her favour at a hearing in Birmingham.

He made no decision about any damages award.

The court heard Ms Woodcock had been “very seriously injured” when “viciously attacked” by Guzelyurt, who was convicted of attempted murder and given a life sentence.

She had been in an “abusive and coercive relationship” with Guzelyurt and had endured a “long history of appalling behaviour”, the judge was told.

Ms Woodcock had appealed after a judge ruled against her following a county court hearing.

Mr Justice Ritchie said she had also made other allegations, but the “main issue” in the appeal was whether Northamptonshire Police had a duty to warn her after the neighbour made a 999 call and informed them Guzelyurt was “loitering” outside, 12 to 13 minutes before the attack.

Police knew that Ms Woodcock had “suffered a long history involving domestic abuse”, including two alleged assaults, said the judge.

“High risk of serious injury was reasonably foreseeable to police”

He said: “That history included at least three arrests and many breaches of bail conditions, preventing [Guzelyurt] from contacting [Ms Woodcock] or going to her home.

“[Police were] also well aware that [Guzelyurt] had very recently threatened to kill [Ms Woodcock].”

He concluded that Ms Woodcock had a “reasonable expectation” that police would “inform her” that Guzelyurt was “loitering outside her house”.

The judge said it happened in circumstances where “she was likely soon to leave her house and there would be a five to 10-minute gap before the arrival of the police”.

Mr Justice Ritchie said it was “reasonably foreseeable” to police, after the 999 call, that Ms Woodcock was at “high risk of serious injury”.

He added: “I consider that the defendant’s failure to call the claimant to protect her in the gap before the allocated police officer arrived at her premises was a breach of the duty of care.”

Northamptonshire Police have yet to comment on the subject matter.

(Source: BBC)

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