A MAN bludgeoned to death his estranged wife after police gave him back keys to their house, an inquest heard.
Officers had quizzed Alan Martin, 53, over a rape allegation by 49-year-old Kay — who had suffered ten incidents of abuse in seven years at the hands of her bricklayer husband.
They took the keys from Martin — who had moved out — but returned them when he was released under investigation.
Twelve days later — on September 20 last year — Martin lay in wait in the house in Sunderland, despite a non-molestation order, for care worker Kay to return from work.
He hit her head four times with a hammer and strangled her with an extension cable.
Martin then hanged himself. The court was told the police actions were investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
No action was taken but the IOPC said “the wisdom of returning the keys should be looked at”.
They could have been withheld if he had been released on bail. DS Katie Smith said it was not deemed “proportionate” and Martin was not classed as a serial domestic violence offender.
But Kay’s mum Audrey Richardson blasted the “loopholes”. Sunderland Coroner Derek Winter recorded that she was unlawfully killed.
He will write to the Home Secretary to call for greater “protection for domestic violence victims”.