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Investigation into woman killed by former partner prompts police changes

North Wales Police make changes to how they deal with domestic abuse case following Laura Stuart’s investigation Credit: PA

North Wales Police have been forced to make changes to how they deal with domestic abuse cases following an investigation into the death of a woman killed by her former partner.

Laura Stuart was stabbed to death in Denbigh town centre in August 2017 by her former partner Jason Cooper.

An investigation carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that Ms Stuart had made eighteen reports over a two year period to the police between August 2015 and August 2017.

The investigation found Mr Cooper was not arrested or interviewed nor was his phone seized to progress allegations of harassment, stalking or malicious communications.

Jason Cooper was jailed for 31 years after he was found guilty of the murder of Laura Stuart Credit: North Wales Police

It said reports made to police included allegations that Mr Cooper had used violence, made threats and had financial influence over Laura, attempted to remove her from the house following arguments and had threatened to distribute intimate photographs of her.

Improvements recommended by the IOPC have since been made to how North Wales Police deal with domestic abuse.

In relation to two allegations of assault made by Ms Stuart, police officers made numerous, unsuccessful attempts to obtain an account from her, but, beyond referrals to other agencies, "did not implement any additional safeguarding measures, nor pursue Mr Cooper based on the information they had."

Misconduct was proven for one police officer at a meeting in April 2019 over allegations that he failed to comply with the North Wales Police domestic abuse policy after Mr Cooper sent threatening messages to Ms Stuart.

Following IOPC suggestions, improvements have now been made at North Wales Police.

North Wales Police said they “fully accept and welcome the findings of the IOPC investigation and have been working with them to improve the effectiveness of our operational response.”

North Wales Police said improvements have been made following IOPC investigation. Credit: North Wales Police

This has resulted in improvements to our policy on how domestic abuse incidents are dealt with, further training for our frontline staff and an investment in an increased number of domestic abuse specialists.We are committed to continuing this effort to work with our partners to do all we can to protect victims of domestic abuse and bring offenders to justice.

– Superintendent Nick Evans, North Wales Police

Welsh Women’s Aid said this case is "yet another stark reminder of the devastating impact of domestic abuse."

It, again, highlights that it is vital that every opportunity is taken to support anyone impacted by abuse to access protection, support and justice and to prevent perpetrators from continuing their abuse.

We strongly urge North Wales Police to continue to implement organisational learning as set out in the report and hold officers to account when they do not adhere to appropriate practice.

– Welsh Women's Aid