A POLICE force has apologised to a grieving family after a jury found a category of failures contributed to the deaths of two people.

The finding comes after the five-day inquest into the deaths of 50-year-old Kieren Lynch and 72-year-old Jennifer Cronin.

During the inquest, the court heard Kieren Lynch armed himself with a knife and doused his mother-in-law in petrol before setting her and himself on fire at her home in Benfleet.

The attack unfolded as Mrs Cronin’s daughter and Kieren’s ex-wife Susan Lynch was in the home.

The fire attack caused fatal burns which led to his death later that day while Mrs Cronin died from her burns two weeks later.

Susan Lynch, Mrs Cronin’s daughter and Lynch’s ex-wife, told the jury they had been married for 25 years but the marriage fell apart after Lynch developed a cocaine addiction and became violent and unpredictable.

The couple separated in November 2016 which led to an escalating pattern of harassment and threatening behaviour from Lynch, culminating in the horrific attack on March 13, last year.

Mrs Lynch described Kieren as a “monstrous person” when he was using cocaine and said he became “aggressive and violent”.

The court heard on one occasion, he had been charged with criminal damage after visiting Susan at home armed with a claw hammer and smashed her plant pots.

Lynch also made threats to kill both himself, Susan and his 19-year-old daughter Molly prior to March 13.

Susan said: “I was terrified. I didn’t like my children to be home alone - it was an awful time.

“I felt like he was upping the ante in what he was doing.

“I reported each incident but he wasn’t arrested. I couldn’t understand why the police had not gone to his house or his work and arrested him and why we had to keep going through this.”

The court heard that Kieren Lynch had been deemed high risk by Essex Police but that this was downgraded to medium on the day of the attack, meaning police did not believe there was any immediate safety concerns for the family.

Police officers were questioned as to why no firearms search had been carried out at Lynch’s home address despite that being the force’s policy with domestic violence incidents.

The court also heard there were no referrals made to social services despite children under 18 being involved and that there was no reference in the police reports regarding the threats to kill despite that being mentioned in Susan Lynch’s statement.

Mrs Lynch also told the court there had been no follow up with her about a safeguarding procedure.

At the conclusion of the inquest, a senior Essex Police officer issued a formal apology to the family and has promised to take action to address them.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct, the police watchdog, have concluded their investigation and found that there is no case to answer for misconduct but eight officers will be receiving management action.

Assistant coroner Tina Harrington took special steps to commend paramedics and members of the public for their life-saving efforts.

She said: “I would like to commend the paramedics - Jessica Kyle and Matthew Smith - who attended both injured people in the garden and placed themselves at risk and provided care in the most difficult circumstances and I would like to offer my commendation for the service they provided.”

Ms Harrington also commended Mrs Cronin’s neighbours and ladies who were playing golf at the time who also put themselves at risk by entering the garden in a bid to help Mrs Cronin who suffered horrific burns on her face and head.

This included Linda McGowan, Susan Hilton and Maxine Howard who ran to help after hearing Susan’s screams.