Met Police officer fired for ‘shocking’ failure to probe abuse allegations before woman murdered

A Metropolitan Police officer has been fired for her “shocking” failure to investigate a woman’s domestic abuse allegations against her estranged husband before he murdered her.

Damien Simmons, 45, poured petrol over Denise Keane-Simmons (pictured), 36, and set her alight at her home in Harlesden, north London, on April 16 2020.

Ms Keane-Barnett, who has also been referred to as Ms Keane-Simmons, suffered horrific burns and later died in hospital.

On Tuesday, an independently chaired disciplinary panel found that Met Police officer Pc Sandeep Khunkhun had failed to investigate allegations of domestic abuse and harassment that Ms Keane-Barnett previously made against her husband.

It came after the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched an investigation into Ms Khunkhun’s handling of the case.

The IOPC said it gathered evidence that showed Ms Keane-Barnett had first notified police of domestic abuse allegations on January 26 2020.

A few days later on February 1, officers removed Simmons from Ms Keane-Barnett’s property after he locked her in her room.

Police returned later that day after Ms Keane-Barnett found a camera installed into a lightbulb in her bedroom.

Ms Khunkhun was assigned the case later that day and was handed an action plan by a superior, which included contacting Ms Keane-Barnett to see if she was willing to support a prosecution.

Three days after Ms Khunkhun was assigned the case, Ms Keane-Barnett gave a statement saying she fully supported police action and wanted her husband arrested.

On February 13, Ms Keane-Barnett told police Simmons was harassing her by email and posting false information about her on social media, the IOPC said.

Body-worn footage shows Ms Keane-Barnett telling officers who were interviewing her that she wanted Simmons to be arrested and would be willing to attend court.

The IOPC said Ms Khunkhun failed to complete the action plan or put in place adequate safeguarding procedures.

Ms Khunkhun cancelled three interviews with Simmons and did not arrest him before sending the case to be closed on April 6, the agency added.

The IOPC also said the disciplinary panel rejected a record made by Ms Khunkhun on March 30, which said Ms Keane-Barnett had 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.”

Simmons was jailed for life with a minimum term of 32 years in October after he was found guilty of his wife’s murder in a trial at the Old Bailey.

He was also given a 20-year jail sentence for arson with intent to endanger life and 12 months behind bars for disclosing sexual images – to run concurrently.

During the trial, prosecutor Olcay Sapanoglu said Simmons “carried out a jealous campaign of torment and abuse against his wife which culminated in him murdering her in the most horrific of ways – simply because he could not accept that their relationship was over”.

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