Why was our David murdered?

A FAMILY have taken their fight for answers over the build-up to the murder of a dad-of-two to Parliament.

David Burrows, of Ravensthorpe, was fatally stabbed outside his family's firm in September 2005, and his father and uncle were wounded.

Mechanic Gavin Hogg, who rented a unit near to the family business, M&B Haulage, in Low Mills Industrial Estate, was found guilty of murder and jailed for life. He hanged himself in his cell in Armley jail last February.

During the trial the court heard he had waged a campaign of terror on the Burrows family, at one point dragging David's father Darrell out of his car and trying to drown him in the canal.

This week Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood was granted an adjournment debate in the House of Commons, when he had the chance to put his concerns about the police and Crown Prosecution Service's handling of events leading up to the murder to the minister for crime and policing, Tony McNulty.

Mr Wood told Mr McNulty: "Despite two years of police involvement in the case, despite the fact that the police database showed Hogg to be a violent man and that at least one independent witness had said that the attack (on Darrell) was a premeditated attempt at murder, and despite the injuries sustained by Mr (Darrell) Burrows — a man in his 60s — Mr Hogg, who was in his 30s, was later charged with common assault and with criminal damage to the car."

BAILED

Four months later, Hogg, 35, formerly of Wellhouse Lane, Mirfield, was found guilty of assault by magistrates, but bailed for sentencing.

The very next day, at lunchtime, Hogg crashed his car into Mr Burrows', which was parked outside M&B, and, when they came out to investigate, stabbed the three men – 36-year-old David, who lived with his girlfriend and children in Huddersfield Road, Darrell and Clive Hoyland.

That morning, after being stalked and intimidated by Hogg, Darrell Burrows had gone to Batley police station and told an officer if they did not act somebody would be killed.

Mr Wood went on: "Family members believe that the events could have been avoided if a different course of action had been taken on any one of the many occasions on which they contacted the police to seek help.

"The family specifically believe that an unseemly rush to clear up matters — no doubt with one eye on the expectations of the public and the media — meant that there was a consistent tendency on the part of the police to underplay the seriousness of what was a steadily worsening situation."

Mr Wood said the family believed a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which only recommended giving two officers written warnings, 'missed the point'. Mr Hoyland previously told he Reporter the report – carried out by a former West Yorkshire Police senior officer – was a "whitewash".

PROBLEM

Mr Wood said: "There appears to be a systemic problem with the way in which the police operate in such situations, with each incident apparently being treated as though there was no context.

"As a result, its seriousness and significance are missed."

He also raised concerns about the way details of cases are passed between the police and CPS. After the attempted drowning, the investigating police officer and CPS solicitor – who would decide on the charges to be brought – did not even speak on the phone.

Mr McNulty said he intended to 'firmly' ask the CPS and chief constable of West Yorkshire Police what lessons they had learned from the case.

He added: "I take on, and will feed back into my deliberations with the police more generally, the notion of context and oversight, when things are duly reported. I think that that does happen, but sadly things go wrong.

"We need to ensure that if there are lessons to learn from this tragedy — I am sure that there are — they are learnt and fed back in to the police, CPS and IPCC, not only in West Yorkshire but throughout the country.

"If we cannot learn lessons of substance from such tragedies, we would be in a sorry position."

After the meeting, which took place on Tuesday, Mr Wood said the purpose of taking the debate to the Home Office minister had been to assure the Burrows family that no one else would have to endure a similar tragedy.

He said: "These cases do not happen that often but when they do the police have to adopt a different attitude.

"The pressure is always to get incidents cleared up that day and move on.

"Generally that's what we want but I think people involved in the process, when they come face to face with a situation like that, have to have the courage and professional integrity to say this will have to go through to tomorrow.

"There is a systemic problem: the police appear to be happy to be called endless times over a period of years to a situation and to deal with it on a one-off basis all the time and not take responsibility for saying – this is getting out of hand and therefore what do we do about it."

At the trial the judge described Darrell Burrows, who has since retired and spends most of his time in Spain, and Mr Hoyland – who was said to have come within an inch of dying – as "broken men".

Mr Wood said: "The family will never recover. None of this is going to bring David back or eradicate the memory of being terrorised for over two years.

"But they are trying to get some good out of it, make sure lessons are being learned to make sure it doesn't happen again. "I think they want to do justice to David.

"He was a man with two children, in the prime of his life, about to be married. By virtue of trying to protect his father he was stabbed to death before his eyes. It's a dreadful situation."

Mr Wood said he was optimistic they could achieve their goals: "We've given it a good shot. "I don't intend just to give up now. Anything else we can do we will be doing it."