Kevin Nunes gangland murder: Four top police officers cleared over botched probe into footballer's killing
Four of the country's most senior police officers were today cleared of wrongdoing in the botched Kevin Nunes gangland murder case.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) today said Staffordshire Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, and retired Northamptonshire Chief Constable Adrian Lee would not face disciplinary action over the handling of the 2002 murder investigation.
Five men convicted of the 20-year-old footballer's murder in Pattingham, near the Shropshire border, were later released after serious failings were exposed.
The four officers were found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct in the investigation report, compiled for the IPCC by Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon, but these findings were rejected by the Police and Crime Commissioners of Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, and the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police.
The IPCC has the power to direct misconduct hearings but has decided not to, effectively clearing the officers.
A total of 14 officers who served with Staffordshire Police during the investigation. Two Staffordshire detective constables were found to have a case to answer for misconduct, which force accepted in respect of one matter. One detective constable was given management advice; the other retired on health grounds.
The case centred around the handling of a protective witness in the case and the non-disclosure of a damning dossier into failings within the unit dealing with the case.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided in January and November 2014 that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any officers over the same matter.
IPCC Deputy Chair Sarah Green said: "This has been an extremely complex and lengthy investigation.
"There is broad agreement that there were serious failings at Staffordshire Police following the murder of Kevin Nunes in 2002 and the conviction of five defendants for that murder in 2008.
"However, cases for gross misconduct or misconduct have been rejected by the appropriate authorities who are responsible for holding misconduct hearings.
"After careful consideration I have accepted the appropriate authorities' assessments and decided not to issue directions that misconduct hearings be held."
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis told the Express & Star: "It is clear that something went seriously wrong in relation to the investigation of Kevin Nunes' murder in 2002 and the wider police and criminal justice proceedings relating to it.
"All this potentially damages public confidence in policing and criminal justice and it was right that the IPCC launched an investigation to examine what happened after the murder, the conviction of five defendants in 2008 and then the quashing of those convictions in 2012.
"My responsibility has been to determine whether the evidence presented to me in the Operation Kalmia Report warranted Jane Sawyers appearing before a misconduct panel to answer allegations of gross misconduct.
"After examining the circumstances and facts, and with independent professional and legal advice, I concluded that the evidence did not support either gross misconduct or misconduct by Mrs Sawyers.
"The IPCC have spent nearly 12 months considering my findings and have now confirmed that they fully support my decision that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Mrs Sawyers.
"This has been a tragic set of circumstances with a life lost, criminal justice and policing competence brought into question and police officers under investigation for over four years."
Mr Nunes was pistol whipped and shot five times in Clive Road in Pattingham.
In 2008, Levi Walker, Adam Joof, Owen Crooks, Michael Osbourne and Antonio Christie were jailed for the murder.
But the five men had their convictions quashed after a catalogue of failings by Staffordshire Police were brought to light at a Court of Appeal hearing in London in 2012.
It was described as a 'serious perversion of the course of justice' by a top appeal judge.
It came after Detective Inspector Joe Anderson turned whistleblower and reported there was 'corruption, falsification and dishonesty' in the Staffordshire Police Sensitive Policing Unit which was responsible for witness protection scheme that Simeon Taylor joined in March 2005.