Daughters of Bury St Edmunds murder victim Mary Griffiths to make civil claim

Mary Griffiths
Mary Griffiths

The daughters of Bury St Edmunds murder victim Mary Griffiths are to take a civil claim to the High Court of Justice next week.

Mary was murdered in front of her three young daughters by John McFarlane who shot the fitness instructor with a bolt gun after breaking into her home in 2009.

Her children, Jessica, Hannah and Sophie Griffiths are making a civil claim for damages against Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and Suffolk Police which is due to be heard in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice next week.

Both organisations are facing a claim under the Human Rights Act, while the trust is also defending a claim of negligence.

McFarlane, who worked as a slaughterman, used an axe to break into Mary’s home, in Bulrush Crescent, in the early hours of May 6.

He switched off the electricty and dragged her out of bed where she was sleeping with Hannah.

Jessica and Hannah both tried to fight off McFarlane, who threw their mother down the stairs.

The four ended up outside the house and in the garden, where McFarlane shot Ms Griffiths twice in the chest and once in the shoulder with the bolt gun, in what was described as an ‘execution’ by a neighbour.

McFarlane was jailed for life in November 2009.

Mary called police the night before her murder to make a complaint that McFarlane was harassing her and they had arranged to visit her the next day.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded that police ‘should have dispatched an officer to visit her home at the earliest available opportunity on the evening of May 5 rather than waiting until the following day’.

McFarlane, who had been under the care of the then Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, had been assessed as being of no significant risk to others just days before he murdered Mary.

An independent investigation by NHS Midlands and East highlighted ‘weaknesses’ in the care and treatment of McFarlane but concluded that none of these led to Mary’s murder.

An NSFT spokesman said: “The trust have the utmost sympathy for the three claimants who lost their mother in the most tragic of circumstances and we understand that this has been incredibly difficult for them.

“The trust is defending the claim on the basis of independent medical expert evidence from a specialist outside the trust who had advised that none of the trust’s staff were negligent in their treatment of Mr McFarlane prior to the murder of Mrs Griffiths.

“The independent expert medical evidence confirms that the treatment provided was entirely appropriate and therefore it is not appropriate for us to settle this claim even though the trust do have every sympathy for the claimants.”

A Suffolk Police spokesman confirmed they were co-defendants in the case, which is due to last for two weeks.

Mary’s daughters are being represented by Imran Khan and Partners.