Katrina Makunova: Police ‘missed gang risk’ to teen killed in row with ex-boyfriend

·3-min read
Katrina Makunova  (Met Police)
Katrina Makunova (Met Police)

Police missed “gang affiliation” risks before a teenage abuse victim died in a confrontation with her ex-boyfriend, a coroner has said.

Katrina Makunova, 17, died in July 2018 after falling on a knife concealed in her handbag during a confrontation with Oluwaseyi Dada in Camberwell, south London.

Dada, 21, confessed to the manslaughter of Ms Makunova and was later jailed for two years and three months.

In a rare prevention of future deaths report, senior coroner Andrew Harris raised concerns about the force’s assessment of risk to Katrina, who suffered a “pattern of abuse and coercion and controlling behaviour” from Dada.

The Inner South London coroner said police missed risks associated with gang association, and raised fears the Met’s Child Safety Units were overstretched.

Officers did not account in their risk assessments for the fact that Dada was known to carry a knife, which he used in “controlling” situations, said Mr Harris in a report published online on Friday.

“Those around Katrina knew of her past and present association with gang members; yet this too never seems to have been investigated and identified by police as a risk factor,” he said. 

“Evidence was heard from her brother and another witness that her fear of what harm he might do led her not to make a full disclosure of his controlling behaviour to the police.”

Oluwaseyi Dada (Metropolitan Police)
Oluwaseyi Dada (Metropolitan Police)

Workload pressures in the Met’s Child Safety Units were “considerable,” the report found, with the coroner raising concern there was not enough staff for officers to fulfill safeguarding duties “effectively and safely.”

Police have previously apologised for failings in the case. Last year, a police constable involved in the case was found guilty of gross misconduct for not filling out a mandatory safeguarding report after speaking to the teenager.

The coroner has now asked two academics to present evidence on how gang affiliation should be considered in risk assessments of domestic abuse victims.

He has also asked the Met Police what action it will take following Ms Makunova’s death, with a response due by January 3.

Commander Melanie Dales, the Met's lead officer for public protection, told the Standard Ms Makunova’s death was a “tragedy” and that the force had enhanced its response to domestic abuse reports after failings in her case.

This included enhanced training to more than 6,800 frontline officers to help them understand domestic abuse, and Predatory Offender Units dedicated to arresting the most serious offenders, she said.

"When completing risk assessments in domestic abuse cases, Met officers follow the nationally-recognised guidance, which does take into account the carrying of weapons and a question is included which asks whether the weapons or objects could cause harm to the person in question,” she said.

"We will engage positively with any evidence-based academic research to help further understand how knife-carrying and gang association are risk factors in domestic abuse as our priority is to tackle violence against women and girls. 

“We want to learn from this case and protect Londoners further.”

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