Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Met officer dismissed over failures to investigate prior to woman's murder

A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer was dismissed without notice for failing in her duties to investigate allegations of harassment and voyeurism, and for failing to safeguard a woman before she was murdered by her estranged husband in April 2020.

Following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation, an independently chaired disciplinary panel found PC Sandeep Khunkhun failed to investigate allegations Denise Keane-Barnett made about Damian Simmons.

On 16 April 2020,  Ms Keane-Barnett died after her husband Simmons set fire to the house in which she was staying. He was convicted of her murder and jailed for life, following a trial in 2021.

Evidence we gathered indicated police were first notified of allegations of domestic abuse on 26 January 2020, when Ms Keane-Barnett told police her husband was verbally abusive, and she was afraid of him when he was drunk. It was recorded Ms Keane-Barnett was advised to call the police if there was any escalation in Simmons' behaviour.

On 1 February police removed Simmons from Ms Keane-Barnett’s property for locking her in her room. Police checked his keys did not fit the lock on her door before advising him “that police action may escalate should he return.” That same day police returned to the property after Ms Keane-Barnett found a light bulb with a camera in her bedroom, which she thought Mr Simmons had installed.

On 13 February, Ms Keane-Barnett told police Mr Simmons was harassing her by email and posting false information about her on social media and had threatened to put this information on her school workplace board, where she worked as a teaching assistant. Body worn video (BWV) recorded by the officers who interviewed her showed Ms Keane-Barnett confirmed she wanted Mr Simmons to be arrested and would attend court if necessary.

On 19 February 2020, PC Khunkhun was assigned the case and given an action plan by her sergeant, which included contacting the victim to see if she was willing to support a prosecution, examining the lightbulb for forensic evidence, and interviewing the suspect and seizing and downloading his phone. Three days after PC Khunkhun was assigned the case, Ms Keane-Barnett gave a statement saying she fully supported police action and wanted her husband arrested.  

The panel found PC Khunkhun failed to complete these actions and to implement adequate safeguarding procedures, in line with force policy. On three occasions she cancelled interviews with Mr Simmons and did not interview or arrest him before sending the case for closure on 6 April. The case was closed on 7 April. The panel rejected the record PC Khunkhun made on 30 March, that Ms Keane-Barnett told her she did 'not wish to substantiate the allegations’.   

IOPC Regional Director for London Sal Naseem said: "Our thoughts remain with Ms Keane-Barnett’s friends and family and all of those affected by her tragic death.

"The national guidance is clear that police officers have a duty to take positive action when they deal with domestic abuse. PC Khunkhun failed to follow reasonable lines of enquiry, which had been set by a supervisor and to ensure appropriate safeguarding was put in place. 

“PC Khunkhun failed Ms Keane-Barnett in a shocking dereliction of her duties as a police officer.

“Her conduct breached the police professional standards of duties and responsibilities and as a result she has been dismissed without notice and will be placed on the barred list preventing her from working for the police in future.”   

Channel website: https://policeconduct.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://policeconduct.gov.uk/news/met-officer-dismissed-over-failures-investigate-prior-womans-murder

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