Arlesey Blue Lagoon victim police inquiries ‘flawed’

THREE police investigations concerning the welfare of a man prior to his murder were “flawed”, according to an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The IPCC has today (Thursday) published a report into the police handling of incidents involving Michael Gilbert, who was murdered in January 2009 and had his body dismembered and dumped in the Blue Lagoon in Arlesey.

In April 2010, members of the Watt family, from Luton, were convicted of his murder.

In July 2010, Mr Gilbert’s mother contacted the IPCC and alleged police failed to investigate three incidents involving her son - an assault in Luton in 2002 and abductions in Cambridgeshire in 2007 and in Lancashire in 2008.

She believed her son’s murder could have been prevented if police had intervened.

IPCC commissioner, Rachel Cerfontyne, said: “We looked at specific allegations that the police did not investigate three incidents involving Michael and the Watt family.

“We have found that on each occasion investigations had taken place but were flawed due to misinformation, failures in communication and human error.”

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In January 2002, a member of his family reported to Bedfordshire Police that Mr Gilbert had been cut with a knife and shot with a pellet gun.

Three members of the Watt family were named as the offenders, but police calls were not returned by Mr Gilbert and he failed to attend a meeting, the IPCC found.

There was no record of him going to hospital when he said he had and social services told detectives he had a history of making false allegations.

In fact, social services had confused another person of the same name and the hospital doctor had sent a note to Mr Gilbert’s GP instead of filing his attendance on his record, the IPCC report reveals.

In June 2007, Mr Gilbert was with a friend in Cambridge when he was approached by James Watt - one of his killers - and got into a car with him.

His concerned friend contacted Cambridgeshire Police and efforts were made to trace him.

However, on July 11 Mr Gilbert was arrested on suspicion of rape and questioned by Bedfordshire Police.

Cambridgeshire Police were told he had been arrested and that no claims of abduction had been made, so the abduction inquiry was dropped.

The IPCC said Mr Gilbert, who is originally from Luton, was released but that he had told a Bedfordshire detective that he had been abducted and that this allegation was not passed on to Cambridgeshire Police.

On January 28, 2008, Mr Gilbert was abducted from outside a job centre in Blackburn while with his girlfriend’s brother.

Lancashire Police were informed on February 1 and took details of the incident and a contact number for Mr Gilbert.

However, the IPCC states, the incorrect number was written down by the officer and when it was dialled the man who answered told them he was not Mr Gilbert and did not know him.

Officers closed the call thinking he was avoiding contact with the informant’s family.