Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nurse was killed by jealous ex-boyfriend who stabbed her in the head 130 times after police failed to tell her he had a history of violence against women

  • Katie Cullen, 34, stabbed 130 times in head by Iman Ghaefelipour in 2009
  • Victim had gone to police in 2008 after he threatened to kill her after split
  • Officers failed to warn her he planned to set fire to previous partner in 2007
  • Asylum seeker later went to Katie's home and tortured and murdered her
  • IPCC report damns Greater Manchester Police for handling of case
  • Officers gave her 'false assurances' about him and 'badly let her down'
A nurse murdered by her jealous ex-boyfriend was never told by police he had threatened to kill another ex-partner two years earlier in a series of planned arson attacks, a damning report revealed today.

Katie Cullen, 34, was stabbed 130 times in the head by Iranian-born asylum-seeker Iman 

Saeed Ghaefelipour, 28, who also gouged out one of her eyes in the murder in October 2009.
Ms Cullen, who first met her killer at a salsa class, had complained to police after he threatened to kill her when she broke off the relationship in 2008.

But she was never warned that in 2007 he had threatened to kill another ex-girlfriend who broke off with him, with 'little doubt' he was responsible for arson attacks on her car and home. 

Scandal: Katie Cullen, 34, was stabbed 130 times in the head by Iranian-born asylum-seeker Iman Saeed Ghaefelipour, 28, but was never warned he had threatened to kill a previous ex-girlfriend

It led to 'false reassurance' and 'increased vulnerability' for Miss Cullen, an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report out today found.

Ghaefelipour was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 23 years before parole for the 2009 murder of Miss Cullen, who worked as a senior sister in cardiology at the Liverpool Heart and Chester Hospital and lived in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Today her family said they are 'utterly appalled' at the way Greater Manchester Police (GMP) dealt with the case.


2002: Killer Iman Ghaefelipour arrives in UK and claims asylum. 
2007: Has relationship with woman but in August of that year after she broke it off, her car and front door was set alight. She called police but they failed to check out his alibi or CCTV so is freed without charged. If he had been convicted he would have been deported.
2008: Katie Cullen meets her killer at a Salsa class in March and embarks on relationship with him. Six months later she broke it off because he took £3,000 from her bank account without permission.
May 2009: She started a new relationship but bumped into Ghaefelipour in a restaurant, where he threatened to kill her and her boyfriend and then made menacing phone calls. 
Miss Cullen went to police twice, she was subjected to 26 different procedural delays, before she was seen by two police officers.Their system showed no warning markers against his name - but a search after her death found them.
October 2009:  Ghaefelipour arrives at her house and says he has the £3,000 he owed her. He then tortured and murdered her. 
The IPCC report found a 'catalogue of inaction and missed opportunities' and that Miss Cullen was 'badly let down' by police officers who handled her complaint about Ghaefelipour.

The IPCC report said that had the earlier arson offences been adequately investigated, it is possible that he would have been convicted and not at liberty to murder Miss Cullen.

And if police had not withheld information about her killer it would have 'enabled her to better understand the dangerous situation she was in', the IPCC said.

In fact police agreed to Miss Cullen's request to contact Ghaefelipour and ask him to deliver the £3,000 he owed her when she was not at home, with such contact between the two 'entirely inappropriate'.

It was then that he tortured and murdered her. 
Her mother Diane Cullen said: 'We are distraught at what happened to Katie and utterly appalled at the lack of care she received at the hands of GMP when she reported the threat to kill her and their decision to keep vital information from her.

'It is inconceivable to us that the two police officers concerned should protect her assailant, a man with a reported history of violence, than protect a vulnerable girl who lived on her own and who turned to them for help.

'Unbelievably, they actively encouraged him to go round to her house to repay an outstanding debt.

'But even worse, by withholding such information from Katie, they denied her the opportunity to protect herself. She returned to her own home alone and vulnerable, ignorant of the dangerous situation she was in.

'Since Katie's murder we have been plunged into unimaginable torture.

'There isn't a day goes by I don't think about her and miss her. She meant the world to me and my family. We all adored her and without her our lives can never be the same.'

Bereft: Patrick Cullen, brother of murdered nurse Katie Cullen reads a statement outside Manchester Crown Court today, with his mother Diane, left, sister Alison and father Peter, after the damning report
Bereft: Patrick Cullen, brother of murdered nurse Katie Cullen reads a statement outside Manchester Crown Court today, with his mother Diane, left, sister Alison and father Peter, after the damning report

IPCC deputy chair Rachel Cerfontyne said: 'Katie Cullen was brutally murdered. Her family have been devastated by their loss and they are still struggling to come to terms with that fact that not only did the police fail to help her, their actions may have given her false reassurance and, in doing so, increased her vulnerability.


A scheme giving people the 'right to know' if a partner has a history of domestic violence was rolled out to police forces across England and Wales in March.
Clare's Law was created after 36-year-old Clare Wood, right, was murdered by a man who became known as the 'Facebook fugitive'.
In the days after her brutal killing, detectives issued a warning that her ex-boyfriend George Appleton might attempt to communicate with other women via the internet.
Unbeknown to Miss Wood, Appleton had a history of violence towards women and was known to prowl online dating websites and Facebook in search of partners, often using different aliases.
The mother-of-one's body was discovered in the bedroom of her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009. She had been strangled and set on fire.
Police watchdogs concluded afterwards that she had been badly let down by 'individual and systemic' failures by Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
In the months before her murder she had repeatedly contacted GMP alleging Appleton had caused criminal damage, harassed her, threatened to kill her and tried to rape her.
Appleton, from Salford, was found six days later after her death, hanged in a derelict pub.
Clare's father, Michael Wood, who has backed the campaign, later said he had taken an 'instant' dislike to Appleton.
Miss Wood had told her father Appleton had a criminal record - though only for motoring offences. In fact he had been jailed for three years in 2002 for harassing another woman and for six months a year earlier after breaching a restraining order on another ex-girlfriend. 
Her father, a former prison officer from Batley, West Yorkshire, said at the hearing: 'My daughter wasn't stupid. Had she known about George Appleton's past she would have taken herself and my granddaughter out of there in a heartbeat.'
'In my view, Katie was badly let down by Greater Manchester Police.

'Our investigation has exposed a catalogue of inaction and missed opportunities. Katie and her family deserved better.' 

Miss Cullen's mutilated body was found in a pool of blood at her home in Stockport on October 22 2009.

Her right eye was missing, later found dumped in a plastic bag, along with the knife that was used to kill her.

Pizza delivery worker Ghaefelipour was sentenced to life in prison at Manchester Crown Court in April 2010.

The IPCC report said that in August 2007 an ex-girlfriend of Ghaefelipour called police to report he was harassing her and had made threats to kill her.

Shortly afterwards, two serious arson attacks were made on her car and home.

These crimes were investigated by the police but the IPCC said the investigations were 'inadequate' and no charges were brought, although the police had little doubt that Ghaefelipour was responsible for both attacks.
Miss Cullen began a six-month relationship with Ghaefelipour in March 2008.

During that time she reported to the police that Ghaefelipour had stolen £3,000 from her bank account, but she withdrew this allegation in September 2008 as it appeared she hoped to recover the money through direct agreement with him.

But in May 2009 she began a new relationship and in June, she and her boyfriend encountered Ghaefelipour in a McDonald's restaurant where he attacked Miss Cullen and threatened to kill them both.

She went to police and though the incident was graded a 'priority', requiring a response within the hour, follow-up action was delayed 26 times, Miss Cullen was 'passed from pillar to post' and she was not seen by police until June 22, the IPCC report found.

Having checked the Police National Computer, one of the officers advised Miss Cullen that there were no 'warning' markers against Ghaefelipour on the system.

Later the officers checked the internal intelligence system and discovered Ghaefelipour's history with the previous ex-girlfriend.

But they decided not to contact Miss Cullen and pass on the information because, the report said, 'they were not required to do so by policy or procedure' because he had not actually been charged or convicted of the suspected offences.

A referral to GMP's domestic violence unit resulted in a standard letter and information booklet being sent to Miss Cullen.

But due to the misspelling of her first name and Ghaefelipour's surname, no trace of either was found on the intelligence system, so no connection was made by the unit with Ghaefelipour's history.

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