Met police criticised over failure to protect woman killed by ex-husband

Met police criticised over failure to protect woman killed by ex-husband thumbnail

The Metropolitan police is facing renewed criticism after a report found that officers missed opportunities to protect a woman from her ex-husband in the years before he killed her with a crossbow.

Sana Muhammad, 35, was eight months pregnant when Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo burst into her home in east London and shot an arrow into her stomach as she tried to flee.

She suffered catastrophic internal injuries and died. Her unborn son was delivered by caesarean section and survived.

The report on the Metropolitan police’s multiple failings comes in the same week it emerged officers had ignored eight warnings about serial rapist David Carrick.

Unmathallegadoo was convicted of murder in November 2019 and jailed for life with a minimum term of 33 years.

A domestic homicide review (DHR) report revealed that the Met police missed opportunities to protect Muhammad between 2012 and 2018, including officers disposing of a “burglary kit” discovered outside her home.

According to the report, conducted by Redbridge council and chaired by former police officer Bill Griffiths, Muhammad called police to her home in February 2012 telling them she “did not feel safe” around her husband.

She also told the call handler that her mother had told her that morning that Unmathallegadoo had said to her: “The way I am feeling right now, I could kill someone, do you want me to go to jail?”

Griffiths wrote in the report that the expectation would have been that a risk assessment should take place after the call, but this was not done.

In March 2012, it is understood that an officer gave Muhammad “strong words of advice” about the correct use of the emergency system after she called the police to report verbal aggression from her husband.

The DHR report found: “On this occasion, an opportunity was missed to make a domestic abuse incident record and to share information with partner agencies.”

It added that the “strong words of advice” may have “hindered” Muhammad’s communication with the police.

In November 2017, a member of the public found a hidden rucksack on the street behind Muhammad’s home that contained binoculars, duct tape, new-looking keys and a prescription with Unmathallegadoo’s name on it.

The DHR report said that rather than recording the found property the officers “disposed of it in the refuse bins in the rear yard”.

The report added that this oversight was not “inexperience or lack of training”, but a “deliberate act to avoid ‘paperwork’” on the part of the officers.

It described the disposal of the “burglary kit” as a “missed opportunity” to infer that Unmathallegadoo had been conducting surveillance with the possible intent to commit burglary.

A misconduct hearing was conducted in February 2021 in respect of both officers in which they admitted not recording the property.

In March 2018, the same member of the public found two crossbows, crossbow arrows, a harpoon and a bottle of acid in the same hiding place, but the finds were not linked.

The report made several recommendations, including that the Met police design and provide “reinforcement training” on handling found property and that the Home Office review the law on crossbow acquisition and consider a licensing scheme.

The Met police outlined the recommendations in a statement and said: “The Met has accepted all of these points and work has been undertaken, or is ongoing, to ensure they are implemented.

“Tackling violence, particularly against women and girls, is a key priority for the Met and an area where we have made great strides in recent times. Across the Met there are dedicated teams of officers working around the clock to support victims and carrying out inquiries to bring perpetrators to justice.”

The force also said: “Our sincere condolences remain with the family of Sana Muhammad following her murder in Redbridge in 2018.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We express our sympathies to Ms Muhammad’s loved ones.

“We are considering options on strengthening the controls on crossbows. The government keeps all relevant laws under review to maintain public safety.”