Police error may have allowed a killer to escape

A MAN suspected of murdering a family of four in their own home may have been caught in the act had it not been for errors in the handling of a 999 call.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) yesterday issued its findings from an investigation into Northamptonshire Police’s handling of an abandoned 999 call made around the time the Ding family was murdered in Wootton, Northampton, last April.

The call is believed to have been made by Xing Ding, 18, on her mobile. Xing, her sister Alice, 12, and parents Jifeng Ding and Helen Chui were found dead on May 1.

Northamptonshire Police yesterday said it believed it was unlikely that the lives of the Ding family could have been saved but there was a possibility that the main suspect in the case, An Xiang Du, could have been caught at the Ding family home had the 999 call been handled correctly and officers dispatched.

The investigation found that the location from which the 999 call was made was wrongly identified and passed on by a police call handler.

This led to police efforts being focused on a wrong address in Collingtree Park and insufficient checks being done to determine the correct address of the caller.

The IPCC said that as it had been reported to the police that screaming had been heard on the call it should have been graded as requiring an “immediate” rather than a “priority” police response, though this proved immaterial as police did attend – albeit to the wrong address – within 20 minutes.

Then the call was prematurely closed by a force control room supervisor without sufficient effort being made to establish the welfare of the caller.

IPCC Commissioner Amerdeep Somal said the call had been “badly mishandled”.

He said: “An incorrect location as to where the call originated from led to potentially crucial minutes of police time being wasted. And the recording of a specific, wrong address on the incident log misled officers into believing that all was apparently well.”

A statement on behalf of the Ding and Chui families disputed the IPCC finding that there was no evidence to prove that if the 999 call had been handled properly more lives could have been saved.