• STV
  • MySTV

Police 'could have prevented murder of woman by brother'

Elizabeth Bowe called 999 shortly before the attack by Charles Gordon in St Andrews.

Murder: Gordon called police to say he had killed his sister.
Murder: Gordon called police to say he had killed his sister.

Police could have prevented the death of a woman who was murdered by her brother had they appropriately responded to to a 999 call she made, a watchdog has said.

Elizabeth Bowe was attacked by her brother Charles Gordon at her flat in St Andrews, Fife, on September 17 last year.

Ms Bowe, 50, died in hospital three days later and Gordon was later convicted of her murder.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has now revealed she called police to ask for help shortly before she was attacked.

The grandmother said her brother had stolen her phone and she was a vulnerable person who was in a "domestic violence situation".

Her call was initially classed as grade two, which required a police response within 15 minutes.

When the incident was passed to Police Scotland's Bilston Glen control room a staff member there assessed no crime had taken place and sent a voicemail to Ms Bowe saying police would not be attending.

The voicemail, left at 8.12pm, said: "Elizabeth, this is Police Scotland here. It's regarding your so-called theft of a phone by your brother. Your brother is in the house.

"He has not stolen your phone. The police are not going to attend. And also the 999 calls are for emergencies only, certainly not for this type of incident."

Just over an hour later, at 9.24pm, Gordon called 999 and said he had killed his sister.

'It's regarding your so-called theft of a phone by your brother. Your brother is in the house. He has not stolen your phone. The police are not going to attend.'
Police Scotland controller's voicemail to Elizabeth Bowe

The commissioner, Kate Frame, said: "Had Police Scotland timeously dispatched resources in accordance with their call priority system following Elizabeth Bowe's 999 call one hour and 24 minutes earlier, officers may have arrived at her home prior to her receiving the injuries from which she died and thereby prevented her death.

"I have made a number of recommendations to the chief constable to ensure that priority calls from vulnerable persons such as Elizabeth Bowe are responded to appropriately."

She recommended staff at Bilston Glen receive appropriate training in handling calls from vulnerable people.

Ms Bowe had been officially classed as a vulnerable person and an alarm had been installed in her house.

https://stv.tv/news/north/1390262-brother-choked-sister-to-death-for-being-cheeky/ | default

A statement released on behalf of her family said: "The past year has put a terrible strain on the family and we now just want to move on with our lives.

"The circumstances of the death of Elizabeth, who was a caring mother and grandmother, was a shock to us all and we appreciate the support we have received, but would now wish our privacy to be respected.

"The PIRC report has made a number of recommendations on how Police Scotland should deal with calls from vulnerable people. We hope these will be taken forward so that changes are made to avoid something similar happening again."

Police Scotland said they accepted the findings of the PIRC report and would work to implement its recommendations.

Assistant chief constable Nelson Telfer said: "Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Elizabeth Bowe and all those affected by her death.

"Since the incident in September 2016, Police Scotland have given risk and vulnerability training to over 800 staff, which assists in identifying and assessing risk at the first point of contact as well as capturing the right and relevant information."

He added: "Police Scotland receives in excess of tens of thousands of calls every year regarding vulnerable persons and further guidance has been given to call handlers and area control room staff with regards to the downgrading and closure of incidents."

Mr Telfer said a revised system was now in place for incidents involving vulnerable people.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.