A case review has now been released of the tragic case of Rachael Slack and her son Auden, who were brutally stabbed and killed by Rachel’s ex-partner Andrew Cairns in 2010, before killing himself. Rachel was pregnant at the time of her murder.
This review comes after last year’s inquest into the case found that police failure ‘more than minimally contributed’ to Rachael and Auden’s deaths when the police did not adequately impress upon Rachael the danger she and her son faced. Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, believes that the case review directly contradicts the outcome of this inquest, and said in this article for BBC Derby:
“Derbyshire Police failed to discuss with Rachael adequate steps that could have been taken to address the risks to Auden. The police also failed to inform Rachael that they had assessed her and Auden as being at high risk of homicide. As a result, Rachael was denied the opportunity to make an informed choice about her and Auden's safety."
The article details the events leading up to the deaths of Rachael and Auden, including Andrew Cairns detention under the mental health act, his re-arrest for threatening to kill Rachael and his subsequent release on bail the following day. Rachael’s partner at the time of her death believes that this is where mistakes were made that contributed to her and Auden’s death. In the BBC article he says,
“There were too many mistakes made throughout Andrew's care and too many mistakes made with Rachael's safety back at home after he was arrested. Agencies and individuals didn't have, or didn't share, information - it meant they couldn't make whole judgements on decisions. Their safety relied on those decisions being made properly."
The article states that the review believes that the officers involved had no communication with Rachael or Andrew Cairns regarding his mental health issues, and were not informed of his behaviour until after they had released him from custody. These factors, and others, caused the report to conclude that the authorities could not have predicted that Andrew Cairns would have killed Rachael and Auden.
This case is not the only one in recent years where the police and authorities have come under scrutiny for their operations and response times in domestic violence cases. We have mentioned in previous blog posts, here and here, that Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge, is calling for a public inquiry in to the response of the police and other state agencies to women and children experiencing domestic violence. The petition calling for the inquiry was set up in the name of Maria Stubbings, who went through a similarly tragic experience when she was killed by her former partner in 2008.
To sign the petition calling for a public inquest in to police responses, visit the refuge website here.