12 Met Police officers held to account for failing manslaughter victim Katrina Makunova
Two Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) constables have faced a gross incompetence hearing, arranged by the force, following our investigation.
Police constable (PC) Sophie Dennis was given a 12-month final written improvement notice and PC Kerry Lynham was given a 12-month written improvement notice.
They were investigated for their actions in handling allegations of domestic abuse made by Katrina Makunova, 17, who died on 12 July 2018 following an argument with her ex-boyfriend Oluwaseyi Dada, 23, in Camberwell, south-east London.
Ten other officers have already been dealt with for their failings in their dealings with Miss Makunova.
On 23 June 2018, the officers Dennis and Lynham were called to Miss Makunova’s address after reports of a disturbance by Mr Dada.
The gross incompetence hearing heard evidence that they failed:
* to act on her fears that she was being harassed by her ex-partner both at home and at her place of work, that his behaviour was controlling and abusive, and that his behaviour could escalate to him killing someone
*to take a statement from Miss Makunova and complete a domestic violence investigation/arrest form (124d) or ask the questions required in domestic abuse, stalking and harassment (DASH) cases, as per police guidance.
*to safeguard a child by not completing a MERLIN report for the incident – MERLIN is a database run by the MPS and stores information on children who have become known to the police for any reason.
The officers referred Miss Makunova to a local domestic abuse support charity and suggested she take out a restraining order against Mr Dada.
PC Dennis made a false entry on the crime report stating the form 124d and DASH questions had been completed at the scene.
Our investigation – completed in July 2019 – found evidence of a case to answer for gross misconduct for PC Dennis and gross incompetence for PC Lynham, for failure to perform their roles to a satisfactory level.
Following discussion with the MPS we agreed both officers should face a Stage 3 gross incompetence hearing.
After a two-day meeting, which started on Tuesday 8 September, the police panel overseeing the hearing, including an MPS commander as chairperson, found PC Dennis had committed gross incompetence, with the case proven against all her allegations.
The panel found PC Lynham gave an ‘unsatisfactory performance’ of her duties, with the case proven against her in two of the four allegations she faced (see below).
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said:
“By not doing their jobs in the way they were trained and paid to, PC Dennis and PC Lynham – and the other officers in this case - utterly failed Katrina Makunova and as a result, her family and friends.
“In addition, PC Dennis attempted to cover her tracks by lying about her investigative actions at the scene on a subsequent crime report and PC Lynham did nothing to stop this. This was unacceptable behaviour.”
Our investigation also found failings in the action of 10 other MPS officers, ranging in rank from police constable to detective sergeant, relating to their dealings with Miss Makunova.
Three officers were for failing to:
* Investigate allegations made by Miss Makunova as a victim of domestic abuse
* Update her as per the Victims’ Code of Practice (VCOP).
*Provide effective safeguarding to her as a child
Two officers were for failing to:
*Supervise an investigation into an allegation of common assault
* Supervise effective safeguarding to a child
Four officers were for failing to complete a Merlin report and the final officer was for failing to conduct proper and diligent intelligence checks in relation to Mr Dada and Miss Makunova and failing to provide adequate safeguarding to a child.
The actions taken against the officers were agreed with the MPS and ranged from management action to reflective practice.
An inquest into Miss Makunova’s death concluded on 8 September 2021 where the jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
The allegations faced by the officers were:
PC Sophie Dennis:
1) Failed to acknowledge a member of the public was reporting a crime (harassment);
2) Failed to take positive action as a result of that allegation;
3) Failed to conduct mandatory risk assessments relating to a vulnerable victim of domestic abuse;
4) Failed to safeguard a child (Miss Makunova);
5) Provided false and misleading information on a later crime report in regard to the above.
All allegations were proven.
PC Kerry Lynham:
1) Failed to acknowledge a member of the public was reporting a crime (harassment) – case proven
2) Failed to take positive action as a result of that allegation – case proven
3) Failed to conduct mandatory risk assessments relating to a vulnerable victim of domestic abuse – not proven
4) Failed to safeguard a child (Miss Makunova) – not proven