A police file with five reported breaches of a violence restraining order protecting Andrea Pickett from her estranged husband sat unallocated for almost two months in the year before her murder, an inquest was told yesterday.
WA Coroner Alastair Hope described the delay as indicative of "deficiencies" after an inquest heard that by the time officers contacted the mother of 13, Kenneth Charles Pickett had already been remanded in custody on another breach.
The evidence came in a coronial examination of circumstances surrounding the fatal stabbing of Andrea on January 12, 2009, by Pickett, who had been released on parole two months earlier from a 2008 jail term for threatening to kill her. Andrea had reported two breaches of a VRO in the days before her death, with Pickett also breaching his parole conditions when he stalked her through Perth suburbs before murdering her.
Yesterday, Det. Sgt Steve Hayward, a former family violence unit officer, detailed a review he conducted of the police handling of Andrea's case, including earlier VRO breaches she reported in early 2008.
The inquest heard Andrea's first police contact over her violent spouse was in January 2008 but she had later told Cannington police she did not want to continue the complaint because she had obtained a VRO.
Det. Sgt Hayward said the matter should still have been pursued by police in line with a policy removing the onus on victims to prosecute their abusers.
It was also revealed a police file containing five VRO breaches reported by Andrea later that month remained unallocated at Armadale police station until late March, when Pickett was already in custody for threatening to kill Andrea and visiting her home with a knife. The inquest heard Andrea had told police at the time that she planned to reconcile with Pickett.
The reason for the delay has not yet been revealed, with further witnesses expected to testify.
Det. Sgt Hayward said "at least" two of the five breaches had enough evidence for action to have been taken by police.
Mr Hope said it appeared police procedures had not been followed.
The inquest also was told a duress alarm was scheduled for Andrea's house, but police came to install it without checking Andrea would be home.
Limited resources were available for the installation of duress alarms, the inquest was told.WA Police said it now had a special domestic violence unit that reviews cases and ensures appropriate resources are applied.
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