Police criticised over Wisbech murder investigation

Pensioner Una Crown (inset with her husband, photo supplied) who was found dead in her Wisbech home in January 2013. Main photo: Peterborough Telegraph

Pensioner Una Crown (inset with her husband, photo supplied) who was found dead in her Wisbech home in January 2013. Main photo: Peterborough Telegraph

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Wednesday 11.20am: Police still hunting the killer of a Wisbech widow whose body was set on fire two years ago have been rapped by their own force for failing to properly preserve the murder scene.

Una Crown, (86), was repeatedly stabbed in the neck and chest before her body was left burning at her bungalow in Magazine Lane Wisbech in January 2013.

Her family have made two complaints against the force over the bungled investigation.

Officers first declared her death as unexplained and only later realised she had been brutally murdered.

An internal probe has now revealed that they also failed to preserve the scene and did not declare the death as suspicious immediately.

The force found that “officers failed to accurately assess the sudden death of Una Crown” and that they “failed to take the necessary steps to preserve the scene.”

Supt Mark Hodgson, head of the force’s professional standards department, said: “After receiving two complaints regarding the investigation into the murder of Una Crown, a review of the actions taken by officers was carried out by the force professional standards department.

“The investigator considered the set of circumstances with which the officers were presented was sufficiently unusual, particularly once the injuries to Mrs Crown’s neck were found, and they should have erred on the side of caution and either declared the death suspicious or sought further guidance.

“The investigator therefore came to the conclusion that the officers breached the standards of professional behaviour.

“However the investigator did not consider the conduct of the officers in question to be deliberately neglectful, nor did he consider the officers’ actions fell so far short of the standards of professional behaviour that they needed to be addressed by way of formal sanctions.

“Recommendations from the investigator have been made to the force to ensure training is provided to all relevant officers and staff to prevent such actions from being made again.

“Both officers greatly regret the distress caused to Mr and Mrs Payne by their flawed decision-making.”

The investigation into Mrs Crown’s death is still ongoing with one man currently on bail on suspicion of her murder.

A post-mortem examination revealed she died from stab wounds to her neck and chest.

A £10,000 reward from Crimestoppers is on offer to catch the killer.