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Elderly Leigh woman died of head injuries after husband hit her
POLICE failed to record details of seven alleged assaults by an elderly man on his wife before she died of head injuries after he hit her, a senior officer has admitted.
Officers failed to note all the alleged injuries Mary Russell, 81, of Madeira Avenue, Leigh, suffered at the hands of her husband Albert, 88, over the five months up to her death, an inquest at Southend Coroners Court heard today.
DCI Mark Hall, of Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, said: “There wasn’t sufficient recording of the details of the assaults.”
A probe by Southend Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Board last year found police treated Mrs Russell’s seven claims of domestic violence as stand-alone incidents, rather than as related.
DCI Hall said an internal review found police should have joined the seven reports and ensured the information was available to officers attending new incidents, officers should have carried out proper risk assessments and the force should have engaged better with other agencies, such as social services, to make sure there was a positive outcome even if it was no prosecution.
Passersby found Mrs Russell staggering around her driveway with a huge swelling that looked “like an apple” on October 29, 2010.
DCI Hall said: “She approached the witnesses saying: ‘Can you help me? He keeps hitting me.’”
Officers found Mr Russell, who had mobility difficulties after breaking his hip in 2007, lying on their bedroom floor with his skin “hanging off” his arms where his wife had clawed at them with her fingernails.
Mrs Russell, who died at Southend Hospital the next day, alleged her husband of 56 years had hit her with a walking stick, but no forensic evidence backed up the claim.
Mr Russell said he slapped her as she blocked his way to bed by sitting on the stairs and digging her nails into his arms.
The inquest heard neighbours failed to report the row as the couple regularly argued, sometimes for days on end.
Police arrested Mr Russell, who has since died of natural causes, on suspicion of manslaughter but dropped the charges as the CPS decided there was not enough evidence for a prosecution.
Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Yvonne Blake said: “Mrs Russell received a head injury on October 29, 2010. As a result of that head injury she suffered an acute left-sided subdural haematoma and later died in hospital.”
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