Police delays led to missed opportunities to safeguard murder victim – report

An inquiry into the murder of a pensioner whose body was dismembered has said police missed opportunities to safeguard him.

Graham Snell is thought to have been killed a day after he visited a police station to tell officers that Daniel Walsh was staying at his home uninvited and had stolen cash from his bank account.

Walsh, 30, is serving a minimum term of 27 years for the murder of the 71-year-old, whose body parts were dumped at different locations, including a badger sett, in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, in June 2019.

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into Derbyshire Constabulary’s contact with Mr Snell, published on Thursday, found that opportunities for intervention were missed by the force.

The IOPC said police did not run checks which would have revealed that Walsh was wanted for robbery.

The report said Mr Snell visited Chesterfield police station on June 19 2019, a day before he is believed to have been murdered.

IOPC investigators focused on police efforts to contact and safeguard the victim between June 19 and 30.

Evidence gathered by the IOPC indicated that safeguarding opportunities were missed when the inquiry officer who spoke to Mr Snell at the station treated it as anti-social behaviour, although noting that verbal threats had allegedly been made by Walsh and Mr Snell feared he might be harmed.

The inquiry officer and a police constable assigned to visit Mr Snell did not record an offence or carry out checks, which would have shown that Walsh was wanted and had a history of violence, including violence towards Mr Snell.

There was no answer when the constable went to Mr Snell’s address in Marsden Street, Chesterfield, on June 20, and the officer was “de-assigned” from the incident – with the case remaining on a tasking list.

But the IOPC said a systemic error led to the constable’s supervisor and control room staff both believing the other party was dealing with the complaint.

This led to the incident being overlooked until it was randomly audited on June 29 by a control room supervisor, and it then took a further 26 hours to deploy officers.

A constable visited Mr Snell’s home on June 30 and Walsh was arrested.

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: “My sympathies are with the family of Mr Snell and all those affected by his death in the most harrowing of circumstances.

“Our investigation indicates that individuals and the systems used by the force did not recognise or respond appropriately to the risks in this case.

“There were safeguarding failures and the opportunity to intervene promptly and effectively before Mr Snell was murdered was missed.”

Mr Campbell added: “I am pleased that the force has accepted our learning recommendations designed to add clarity around the supervision, tasking and resourcing of incidents to avoid confusion over who is responsible for doing what, and to improve processes and training for carrying out risk assessments and safeguarding vulnerable people.”

Although a member of police staff who initially dealt with Mr Snell was found to have a case to answer for misconduct, they have already resigned and no further action will be taken.

The IOPC also found that the constable who was originally tasked with following up Mr Snell’s report had a case to answer for misconduct, and Derbyshire Police have to take management action supported by a detailed performance plan.

Another officer in a supervisory position has received further training in the management of incidents and tasking lists, although they were found to have no case to answer for misconduct.