A WOMAN whose mother and sister were shot dead by Tilford dog breeder John Lowe has branded Surrey Police “murderers” after an independent investigation into the force’s conduct was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.
13 APRIL 2016 | BY Farnham Herald FOR Farnham Herald
The referral by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) could result in two Surrey Police firearms licencing officers facing criminal action over a decision to return shotguns to Lowe just half a year before he murdered his partner Christine Lee and her daughter Lucy Lee.
Police seized the licenced firearms from the dog breeder in March 2013 following an allegation that he had made threats to use them. However, these allegations were later withdrawn and in July 2013 a decision was taken to return the firearms to him.
The following February, Lowe shot and killed Christine and Lucy as they tried to make their escape from his farm house at Keepers Cottage Stud in Waverley Lane. The then-82-year-old was given a life sentence for the murders in October 2014.
Stacy Banner, who claims to have reported Lowe to the police “numerous times” for threatening to harm her mother and sister, welcomed the referral to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but criticised the IPCC for not publishing its report in public.
She told The Herald: “I am relieved that this could lead to a criminal trial for the officers. However I do not agree with the IPCC as it’s [two years] on since the murders and I have not had any sight of the report.
“This in itself is not only disrespectful, it is actually heart-breaking. The police had knowledge of John Lowe being a violent bully since 1997, and also knew the numerous times I reported him. However, Surrey Police’s relationship with Lowe was long established.
“It is astounding that every thing I reported about John Lowe regarding various crimes was never taken seriously. Surrey Police in my conclusion are murderers. Surrey Police are corrupt and I will never rest until every single one who knew, who I told, face justice.
“The police have nearly broken me, and at times I have felt like giving up but I strive to get answers and the truth.”
An inquest into the murders has also been adjourned pending the CPS’s decision whether or not to charge the two police staff, who have already received gross misconduct notices by the IPCC and interviewed under criminal caution in respect of the potential offence of Misconduct in Public Office.
A third member of police staff, who has since retired, was also investigated by the IPCC but has not been referred to the CPS nor recommended to face a gross misconduct hearing.
Asked for its response to Ms Banner’s comments this week, Surrey Police referred The Herald back to its statement issued upon the sentencing of Lowe in October 2014.
The statement read: “In March 2013, Surrey Police seized a shotgun licence and a number of shotguns belonging to Lowe. In July 2013 they were returned following an assessment by firearms licensing officers.
“After his arrest, Surrey Police immediately referred this previous contact to the IPCC. They determined the force should conduct a supervised investigation into our decision to return the weapons.
“We commissioned two independent reports…the initial findings from both reports indicate the decision was flawed and did not meet national standards.
“While the full investigation into this matter remains ongoing, in light of these early findings we have spoken with members of Christine and Lucy Lee’s family to apologise for this.
“The safety of the public is our primary concern and we have already taken steps to ensure our firearms licensing policy and procedures are in line with national best practice.”