Maria Stubbings' family welcome inquest into her death

Chelmsford Weekly News: The family of Maria Stubbings, Manuel Fernandez with Celia Peachey and Benji Stubbings The family of Maria Stubbings, Manuel Fernandez with Celia Peachey and Benji Stubbings

THE family of a Chelmsford mother murdered by her ex-boyfriend after a catalogue of police failings has welcomed the decision to hold an inquest more than five years after her death.

Maria Stubbings, 50, was strangled with a dog lead by Marc Chivers in December 2008.

Chivers, who had been freed from a German prison less than a year earlier after serving 15 years for murdering his then-girlfriend Sabine Rappold, was jailed for life in 2009 for Ms Stubbings' murder at her home in Chelmsford.

Since then, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has published two highly critical reports highlighting Essex Police's failures to protect her.

Her family had said they would sue the force and called for a coroner's inquest to be held.

Essex Coroner's Service has now scheduled a pre-inquest review which is due to take place in Chelmsford ahead of a full hearing later in the year.

Manuel Fernandez, Ms Stubbings' brother, said: "If ever there were a case to be a catalyst for change, it is this one. There is such a catalogue of failings that need to exposed and challenged. But my sister is sadly one woman amongst many who lose their lives because of domestic violence."

Celia Peachey, her daughter, said her mother had a right to be protected and was "denied that basic human right".

"I truly believe that she would still be alive today if the agencies had done their jobs properly," she said.

Essex Police have been criticised by a string of IPCC reports following other deaths of domestic violence victims, including the shootings of Christine and Shania Chambers in Braintree in 2011.

In its most recent report into Ms Stubbings' death, published last May, the watchdog said the force had failed to properly assess the risk Chivers presented to her and her son.

Essex Police previously accepted the findings of the reports, with chief constable Stephen Kavanagh apologising and stressing that the force had taken on-board recommendations to improve the service it offers to victims of domestic abuse.

A spokesman said the force was aware the inquest had been scheduled and would co-operate with the coroner's inquiries.

Refuge, a charity which runs safe houses across the UK, has worked closely with the family. It said Ms Stubbings is just one of many women killed by a current or former partner in recent years.

Chief executive Sandra Horley said: "The list of women who have suffered the same fate as Maria is sickeningly long. All were failed by the police and other state agencies.

"Refuge welcomes this pre-inquest hearing - we must uncover the truth to understand why Maria and other women and children are still not getting the support and protection they deserve."

The family's solicitor, Sarah Ricca from Deighton Pierce Glynn, said she could not comment.

But, speaking last year, she said: ''The family will now be pursuing the legal remedies available to them, including seeking an inquest and bringing a civil claim. 'Their key concern is to ensure that other lives are saved.

"Initiative after initiative has been announced by politicians and chief police officers over the years, yet mistakes continue to be made in the way the state responds to domestic violence that cost women their lives."

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