Laura Stuart let down by police before murder, family say

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The family of a mother murdered by her ex say she was let down by the police.

Mother-of-two Laura Stuart was stabbed multiple times and kicked in the head by Jason Cooper as she walked home from a night out – she died two days later.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is examining 18 reports made to North Wales Police involving Laura and/or Cooper before her death.

“They did let Laura down and I do feel that they’ve let us down,” Laura’s mother Liz Griffiths said.

“They could have done more for her.”

Cooper, 29, was jailed for 31 years at Mold Crown Court in March after being found guilty of her murder in Denbigh.

North Wales Police say they “await” the IOPC findings, which are due in the coming months, and added they “cannot comment further at this stage.”

They are being investigated for the numerous contacts they had with care worker Laura in the two years before her death in August 2017 – and not all were domestic-related incidents.

Laura, who was 33 when she was killed, was with Cooper, from Denbigh, for two years – with the relationship becoming abusive and controlling after they moved in together.

“Laura was fun-loving, hard-working, loved her children, loved all her family, but he’d make her photograph her timesheets at work so he’d know exactly what hours she was working,” Mrs Griffiths told the BBC’s Wales Live programme.

“She’d cook his dinner for him and he’d just walk in and throw the plate of food at her, the whole plate.

“She became more withdrawn from everybody, she wasn’t allowed to speak to her friends. She wasn’t really allowed to do anything, unless he was with her.”

Eventually Laura left Cooper and moved back in with her mother.

He was furious. He texted her constantly and would stand outside in the street waiting for her.

“He just wouldn’t leave her alone,” added Mrs Griffiths. “Her phone, it just pinged all the time, continuously pinged.

“On one occasion she had 421 messages in one day. He would text her saying ‘If I can’t have you, nobody’s going to have you. Run, run, run’.

“I think that was one of the last texts he sent, ‘You’d better run’.”

Three days before she died, Laura went to the police again.

She explained Cooper was constantly contacting her, but because there was no signal at Denbigh Police Station they could not see the messages on her phone.

The police asked Laura to leave her phone but she said she needed it for work. They asked her to send the messages on, but did not hear from her again.

Laura left without making a formal complaint as she said she was worried it would make matters worse.

Her mother said she wanted the police to speak to Cooper and warn him off.

“If they’d actually spoken to him, actually physically went and spoken to him, gave him a little bit of a push to say stop messaging her and stop harassing her,” said Mrs Griffiths.

“I think maybe he would have listened, you’d hope that he would have listened.”

Three days after her visit to the police station, Laura went out for a friend’s birthday.

If the issues raised in this story has affected you, help and support is available via BBC Action Line.

Laura’s friend David Roberts was also knifed by Cooper as he tried to stop the attack. Although Mr Roberts recovered, Laura died on 13 August 2017.

Cooper was jailed in March for Laura’s murder and the attack on Mr Roberts.

He is appealing against the length of his sentence, with a hearing due at the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

“On behalf of North Wales Police I would again like to extend our deepest sympathy to Laura’s family,” said Supt Neil Harrison.

“Following Laura’s tragic death, the matter was referred to the IOPC who have undertaken an independent investigation relating to police contact prior to her death.

“North Wales Police awaits the IOPC’s findings and determinations in relation to this matter and, therefore, cannot comment further at this stage.”

The IOPC said it was finalising the report and expected to publish it in the coming months.

Watch the BBC’s Wales Live programme after the 10 o’clock news on BBC One Wales on Wednesday 10 October.

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