Crossbow killer: Damning failures by Met to protect Sana Muhammad revealed

Scotland Yard faced fresh criticism on Friday after a report found police binned evidence that a man was stalking his ex-wife a year before he killed her with a crossbow.

The damning report into the murder of Sana Muhammad, 35, revealed a series of Metropolitan Police failures.

The force was already reeling this week after it missed opportunities to catch serial rapist police officer David Carrick.

Mrs Muhammad was heavily pregnant when her ex-husband burst into her home in east London in November 2018 and fired a bolt into her stomach as she tried to flee.

Her unborn son — her sixth child — was delivered by Caesarean section and survived.

Killer Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo was jailed for 33 years for what the judge called a “brutal and evil attack”.

A report to the Home Office into the killing has revealed that officers ignored the discovery of a “burglary kit”, including binoculars and duct tape, behind Mrs Muhammad’s home a year earlier.

Sana Muhammad, 35, was killed at home in Ilford
Sana Muhammad, 35, was killed at home in Ilford

The rucksack, which also contained prescription medication with Unmathallegadoo’s full name on it, was collected but not recorded by two officers.

They then threw the bag in the station yard bins because they wanted to “avoid paperwork”.

They made no effort to contact Unmathallegadoo, which was against force rules.

When two crossbows, bolts, a harpoon and a bottle of acid were found stashed in the same hiding place behind an electricity junction box months later, the finds were not linked.

The failure to record the burglary kit “could be seen as influencing the final outcome”, the report found.

“Had the earlier research been conducted, the discovery of deadly weapons would have prompted further risk assessment.”

It added: “This was not an example of forgetfulness, inexperience or lack of training, rather, it seems a deliberate act to avoid paperwork, albeit that pressure of work may have contributed.”

The fact the couple lived in “a known burglary hotspot seems not to have triggered police enthusiasm for further inquiries”, it added.

Both officers were issued with written warnings following a misconduct investigation.

A review of the events leading up to Mrs Muhammad’s murder revealed she had previously been reprimanded by police about misusing the 999 call system when reporting her ex-husband’s abuse.

This might have made her apprehensive about expressing fears to police when her ex made threatening comments to her children in the street in the months before her murder, the report states.

Guilty: Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo (Met Police)
Guilty: Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo (Met Police)

Mrs Muhammad and Unmathallegadoo had an arranged marriage in 1999, when she was aged 17 and he was 31.

When they divorced in 2014 her “situation should have prompted professional curiosity regarding possible honour-based abuse” but did not, the report by former Scotland Yard detective Bill Griffiths found.

There were missed opportunities to link Mrs Muhammad with an independent domestic violence adviser after she first began reporting abuse and coercive control by her then husband in 2012, Mr Griffiths said.

Labour’s policing and crime spokesman in City Hall Unmesh Desai told the Standard: “It’s distressing to learn that opportunities were missed to help Sana and possibly apprehend her killer.

“The review shines a light on what are some obvious failures, and I sincerely hope that lessons are learned as a result.

“The Met Police is in a period of reform, and standards of behaviour and professionalism have to improve so they can provide the service Londoners deserve.

“As they strive to improve, tackling violence against women and girls must be a priority and women must be able to have confidence in their police service.”

The report made three recommendations to police, including reinforcing to officers the basic requirement for them to properly record and investigate property found in the street, using Mrs Muhammed’s murder as a case study.

Mr Griffiths also said the Government should impose stricter laws around crossbows.

Scotland Yard said: “The Met has accepted all of these points and work has been undertaken, or is ongoing, to ensure they are implemented.

“Tackling violence, particularly against women and girls, is a key priority for the Met and an area where we have made great strides in recent times.”

A Home Office spokesman said work was “ongoing” to strengthen laws around crossbows and purchasing the weapons.

“We express our sympathies to Ms Muhammad’s loved ones,” they said.

“We are considering options on strengthening the controls on crossbows.

“The government keeps all relevant laws under review to maintain public safety.”