Warning signs were ignored before 88-year-old woman was murdered, reveals report

Beverley Briggs
Beverley Briggs
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WARNING signs should have triggered an investigation months before a pensioner was brutally murdered in her home, a report revealed.

A Serious Case Review into the killing revealed organisations ignored a string of warnings ahead of 88-year-old Harriet Davison death.

These included a “bogus” burglary just months before the pensioner was battered to death when carer Beverley Briggs, also known as Beverley James, told police a tattooed stranger broke into the sheltered accommodation flat in Emblehope House, Farringdon, before attacking her and Miss Davison.

James, 40, a school caretaker’s wife from Springwell Road, Sunderland, was jailed for 20 years in July 2010 after being found guilty of the killing.

 Now, the review has revealed Northumbria Police, local authorities and two care firms failed to heed warnings ahead of Mrs Davison’s murder.

Report author Nicki Walker-Hall wrote: “Opportunities to assess the relationship between Mrs Davison and James were missed due to under-reporting of subtly-significant events. Events which were significant were not seen as such.

“The police missed an opportunity to identify Mrs Davison as vulnerable following a burglary and as a result there was a delay and dilution of the content of a notification to the Safeguarding Adults Team.”

James was judged to be going “above and beyond her responsibilities” after nurses noticed she was visiting Mrs Davison up to five times a week despite only being contracted to make one visit.

It was later revealed she was stealing from her client.

Detectives found Mrs Davison’s £17,000 savings had been reduced to just £17 in her home.

James had already faked a burglary at the flat to pocket more than £1,000.

She was never charged despite suspicions from others.

Colin Morris, the board’s independent chairman, said: “I wish to express my sincere regret on behalf of the Safeguarding Adults Board that at the time a number of opportunities were missed to pick up on subtle warning signals that this lady’s financial affairs were being abused.

“The report concluded that all agencies and professionals had at times failed to identify the need for a multi-agency approach in their dealings with Mrs Davison. However, even if all of the issues had been fully addressed, there was nothing to indicate that the relationship Mrs Davison had with her paid care worker would result in her death.”

Twitter: @davidallison88