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Kevin Nunes murder: Damages claim against police is dismissed

By Alex Ross | Pattingham | Crime | Published:

A claim for damages against Staffordshire Police by the family of murdered Kevin Nunes has been dismissed, despite serious failings by the force in the botched investigation.

Kevin Nunes

The police force's insurers have turned down a claim for misfeasance in public office by four senior ex-officers, made by the son of Nunes, who was gunned to death 16 years ago.

Five men were convicted of the 22-year-old's death, but later acquitted after a report into detective wrongdoing and mishandling of a witness were never disclosed to the trial judge.

The claim was based on alleged misfeasance by retired Staffordshire Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, former Northamptonshire Chief Constable Adrian Lee, ex-Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, and former West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale.

It said their alleged failings, and the subsequent acquittals, had resulted in Nunes' 14-year-old son suffering psychological damage, including complex traumatic grief.

But the application was denied by the force's insurers. The case can still be pursued through court.

In a letter, the force's solicitors Weightmans said: "Whilst we recognise that failings by Staffordshire Police have caused the claimant and members of his family considerable upset and distress... liability is denied."

Case law

The solicitors said there were individuals and systemic failings in the police handling of the murder investigation.

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But the insurers said the claim failed tests for misfeasance, which is defined as a transgression, especially the wrongful exercise of lawful authority.

They said the application did not prove the accused had acted in bad faith and that there was no cover-up.

Even if a court was satisfied the acquittals had caused personal injury, the insurers added there was no case law to suggest a relative of a victim of crime could pursue for damages.

Nunes' bullet-ridden body was found in Pattingham, near the Shropshire border, 16 years ago – but the case remains unsolved.

This month, a formal review into the murder was launched by Merseyside Police. It will determine if the case can be re-investigated.

Damages of £200,000 were paid to two of the four men – Antonio Christie, of Great Bridge and Levi Walker, of Edgbaston – who had their convictions of murder overturned.

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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