Police missed chances to stop killer lodger who murdered pensioner

Police missed chances to stop killer lodger, 30, who murdered pensioner, 71, and fed his remains to badgers, report finds

  • Graham Snell killed after he complained to police that Daniel Walsh was staying 
  • Walsh, 30, jailed for murder of Mr Snell, who he cut into 10 pieces with handsaw
  • IOPC investigation found opportunities for intervention were missed by officers

Police missed chances to safeguard a ‘much-loved’ pensioner who was brutally murdered and dismembered by a depraved lodger, an inquiry found.  

Graham Snell, 71, is thought to have been killed a day after he visited a police station to complain that Daniel Walsh was staying at his Chesterfield home uninvited and had stolen cash from his bank account. 

Walsh, 30, was jailed for life with a minimum of 27 years for the murder of Snell, whose body was dumped in several locations including a badger den, communal bins and remote woodland. 

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into Derbyshire Constabulary’s contact with Mr Snell, published today, found that opportunities for intervention were missed by the force.     

The IOPC said police did not run checks which would have revealed that Walsh was wanted for robbery.

Daniel Walsh (left), 30, murdered Graham Snell (right) and cut up his ‘much-loved’ victim into 10 pieces after the 71-year-old caught him stealing from his bank account in June 2019

Police called to Mr Snell’s house in Chesterfield after he reported his problems with Walsh

The report said Mr Snell visited Chesterfield police station on June 19, 2019, a day before he is believed to have been murdered in Derbyshire.

IOPC investigators focused on police efforts to contact and safeguard the victim between June 19 and 30.

Evidence gathered by the IOPC indicated that safeguarding opportunities were missed when the inquiry officer who spoke to Mr Snell at the station treated it as anti-social behaviour, although noting that verbal threats had allegedly been made by Walsh and Mr Snell feared he might be harmed.

The inquiry officer and a police constable assigned to visit Mr Snell did not record an offence or carry out checks, which would have shown that Walsh was wanted and had a history of violence.

There was no answer when the constable went to Mr Snell’s address in Chesterfield on June 20, and the officer was ‘de-assigned’ from the incident – with the case remaining on a tasking list.

Walsh stuffed most of Mr Snell’s remains down a badger den and dumped the other body parts in communal bins and remote woodland in Chesterfield. Pictured: Stock image

But the IOPC said a systemic error led to the constable’s supervisor and control room staff both believing the other party was dealing with the complaint.

This led to the incident being overlooked until it was randomly audited on June 29 by a control room supervisor, and it then took a further 26 hours to deploy officers.

A constable visited Mr Snell’s home on June 30 and Walsh was arrested.

Derby Crown Court previously heard how Walsh stole hundreds of pounds from Mr Snell before using two handsaws to cut the ‘much-loved’ landlord into 10 pieces. 

Walsh stuffed most of the remains down a badger den and dumped the other body parts in communal bins and remote woodland.

The killer then ‘took himself away from the horror’ by going on an alcohol and drugs binge with the stolen cash, visiting casinos and amusement arcades in Matlock, Derbyshire, and massage parlours in Sheffield.  

Walsh initially denied murder and claimed he had found Mr Snell’s body in a bedroom following a drinking sessions and said he ‘panicked’ and got rid of it out of fear of being blamed for the death. 

Walsh spent some of Mr Snell’s money on visiting the above massage parlour

Walsh ‘took himself away from the horror’ of killing and dismembering the pensioner by visiting the Club Paradise massage parlour in Sheffield

He was later found guilty of the charge following a three-week trial. 

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: ‘My sympathies are with the family of Mr Snell and all those affected by his death in the most harrowing of circumstances.

‘Our investigation indicates that individuals and the systems used by the force did not recognise or respond appropriately to the risks in this case.

‘There were safeguarding failures and the opportunity to intervene promptly and effectively before Mr Snell was murdered was missed.’

Mr Campbell added: ‘I am pleased that the force has accepted our learning recommendations designed to add clarity around the supervision, tasking and resourcing of incidents to avoid confusion over who is responsible for doing what, and to improve processes and training for carrying out risk assessments and safeguarding vulnerable people.’

Although a member of staff who initially dealt with Mr Snell was found to have a case to answer for misconduct, they have already resigned and no further action will be taken.

The IOPC also found that the constable who was originally tasked with following up Mr Snell’s report had a case to answer for misconduct, and Derbyshire Police have to take management action supported by a detailed performance plan.

Another officer in a supervisory position has received further training in the management of incidents and tasking lists, although they were found to have no case to answer for misconduct.

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