Jury rules police failings contributed to Holbrook killings

Derbyshire Constabulary has issued a statement following the conclusion of the inquest into the deaths of Rachael and Auden Slack and Andrew Cairns.

Jurors decided this afternoon that failures by police in the run-up to the killings contributed to their deaths.

They found that Ms Slack’s death was in part “more than minimally contributed” to by a failure to impress upon her that she was at risk of serious injury or homicide by her ex-partner.

In the case of Auden, jurors found that in part his death was “more than minimally contributed” to by a failure to impress upon his mother that he was at risk of serious injury or homicide, and a failure to discuss with his mother adequate steps to assess the risk.

Rachael’s ex-partner, Andrew Cairns was found to have taken his own life.

The police statement in full:

Assistant Chief Constable Karl Smethem said:“On behalf of Derbyshire Constabulary I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the family of Rachael and Auden Slack. They have faced with great dignity the horror of what happened to Rachael and Auden in 2010.

“Rachael and Auden died in their home, at the hands of Andrew Cairns, her former partner and Auden’s father. Rachael was a very kind and caring person who had been concerned about Andrew Cairns’ mental health and had done all she could to get him help and to support him.

“Since Rachael and Auden’s deaths, two reviews have been conducted.

“We asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission to consider the contact we had with Rachael prior to her death. Additionally, we have contributed to a Serious Case Review which has looked at the actions of all the agencies which were involved in this case, including the Derbyshire mental health services and social services. This was carried out by an independent author and the review will be released within the next few weeks.

“I am confident that Derbyshire Constabulary’s policies and procedures for the investigation of domestic violence incidents, and for the protection of victims, met national guidelines in 2010. From the evidence it is clear that Rachael’s report of Andrew Cairns’ verbal threat to kill was taken very seriously by the police. We were actively investigating the threat, with a view to charging him, and we did take steps to ensure that Rachael and Auden’s home was secure.

“As a result of the two reviews which have taken place and subsequent advancements in national guidelines, we have already developed and improved our domestic violence policies and procedures. However we will now review the evidence heard at the inquest, and the jury’s findings, to see if any further changes are necessary to ensure that the service we provide to the public of Derbyshire is as good as it can be.”