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Rachael Slack: Police Failed Murdered Mother
Failures by police in the run-up to the killings of a pregnant mother and her toddler son contributed to their deaths, an inquest jury has found.
Rachael Slack, 38, and her 23-month-old son Auden were found with multiple stab wounds in their home in the village of Holbrook, Derbyshire, on June 2, 2010.
The inquest heard how Andrew Cairns, Ms Slack's former partner and Auden's father, had threatened to kill them just five days earlier.
He was also found dead at Ms Slack's home after turning the knife on himself.
Coroner Dr Robert Hunter told jurors that 44-year-old Cairns had been known to psychiatric services for a "considerable number of years" before the deaths.
The court in Derby heard that the former golf tutor became upset when Ms Slack, who was an artist, told him she was in a new relationship and pregnant.
On May 27 2010 Ms Slack went to a police station and told officers that Cairns had said: "You're a ******* bitch for abandoning me and getting together with someone else and getting pregnant.
"I've given up everything to be with you, if you are going to make it difficult, I'll make it more so, you've no idea of what I'm capable of, I'll kill you and take him (Auden) with me."
He was arrested and Ms Slack and Auden was considered by officers at "high risk" of homicide.
But Cairns was released on bail the following morning. He was told not to contact Ms Slack or their son.
His mental health had also been assessed by professionals who ruled that he had no major mental health issues and was not a danger to himself or others.
Ms Slack was stabbed 32 times, including twice through the heart. She also had "defensive" injuries to her hands.
Auden had been stabbed 16 times and had a "faint pulse". The child was airlifted to hospital but later pronounced dead.
Jurors returned verdicts of unlawful killing in respect of Ms Slack and Auden, and found that Cairns took his own life.
As part of their deliberations they were asked by the coroner to consider if it was more likely than not that a failure on the part of Derbyshire Constabulary made a more than minimal contribution to the deaths.
They found that Ms Slack's death was in part "more than minimally contributed" to by a failure to impress upon her that she was at risk of serious injury or homicide by her ex-partner.
In the case of Auden, jurors found that in part his death was "more than minimally contributed" to by a failure to impress upon his mother that he was at risk of serious injury or homicide, and a failure to discuss with his mother adequate steps to assess the risk.
Sarah Ricca, solicitor for the family of Rachael and Auden Slack, has called for a public inquiry into domestic violence.
The inquest heard that Derbyshire police had now told officers to make it clear to victims if they are deemed at "high risk" of homicide.
Derbyshire Healthcare, who had treated Cairns for depression for a number of years, said they had sent a "lessons learnt" memo to all staff.