Jury goes out in Maria Stubbings inquest

Maria Stubbings Credit: Essex Police

The jury in the inquest into the death of an Essex mother who was murdered in her own home has retired to consider its verdict.

Maria Stubbings was 50 when she was strangled with a dog lead by her ex-partner Marc Chivers in December 2008. He had served 15 years in prison in Germany for killing another ex-girlfriend. Maria’s family believe there were a catalogue of failings by agencies to protect her.

Maria’s body was found under a pile of coats in the downstairs toilet on 19 December, days after she’d called police saying Chivers had burgled her and she feared for her life. Pathologist Dr Rouse told the inquest he believed she could have died three days earlier.

In July 2008 Essex police installed a panic alarm at Maria's home and put high risk warning markers on her address after she was assaulted by Chivers.

But when he was released from prison in October they removed the alarm.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the police failed to make a risk assessment and took no action to protect Maria.

On 11 December Chivers burgled Maria's home and stole medication she was dependent on.

But when Maria called the police her address was taken down incorrectly so that the warning markers didn't come up and the call was downgraded.

Today the coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray told the jury they needed to decide whether failings by Essex police had caused or more than minimally contributed to her murder. She gave them a number of issues to consider to help them to determine if more could have been done to protect her.

They include:

  • The effectiveness of training and identification of domestic abuse issues and the use of intelligence systems.

  • The creation and monitoring of a safety plan and the risk assessment upon the release of Marc Chivers in October 2008 and Maria’s call to police on 11 December 2008. The safety plan was not reviewed upon his release and the alarm was removed.

  • The effectiveness of sharing information and the ability of connecting different incidents.

  • The effectiveness of the structure and lines of responsibility for investigating domestic abuse – at times officers worked without approval of a supervisor.

  • The actions of police on 12 December 2008 at Hylands Park in Chelmsford when officers found Marc Chivers with Maria’s son Bengi Stubbings and searched his car. Was it a thorough investigation?

  • What steps and measures were taken to arrest Marc Chivers from 12 December until Maria’s death?