Updated: Friday, 7th August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Stockport nurse stabbed 130 times in head by ex-boyfriend was 'badly let down' by GMP

Stockport nurse stabbed 130 times in head by ex-boyfriend was 'badly let down' by GMP

| By Tommy Wilson

A Stockport nurse stabbed 130 times by her killer ex-boyfriend was ‘badly let down’ by Greater Manchester Police after officers failed to warn her of his violent past, a watchdog has said.

Iman Ghafelipour, 28, an asylum seeker from Iraq, was jailed for life after brutally murdering Katie Cullen at her home in 2009 following months of abuse after she broke off their six month relationship.

Despite Ms Cullen reporting the abuse to officers, they failed to warn her of Ghafelipour’s previous convictions against women which included a string of death threats and arson attacks.   

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) slammed Greater Manchester Police's ''catalogue of inaction'' and a ''distinct lack of urgency'' over their handling of the case and said the victim ''deserved better.''

IPCC Deputy Chair Miss Rachel Cerfontyne said: “In my view, Katie was badly let down by Greater Manchester Police.

“Our investigation has exposed a catalogue of inaction and missed opportunities.

“Had the arson offences been adequately investigated, it is possible that Mr Ghafelipour would have been convicted and not at liberty to murder Katie.”

Iman Ghafelipour had previously been arrested for carrying two arson attacks on the property of another ex-girlfriend, but was released without charge, meaning the authorities had no chance of deporting him back to his native Iraq.

Police investigated him but failed to tell Katie about her tormentor's previous history after considering his ''privacy'' under The Data Protection Act 1998.

Instead, Ghaefelipour turned up at her home under the pretext of owing her the money, where he knifed her 130 times repeatedly in the face and neck before her body was mutilated. 

Afterwards he left Katie's body in her lounge for up to 36 hours before falsely claiming to friends he had been the victim of a robbery.

Today the victim's mother Diane Cullen, also a nurse, said: ''We are utterly appalled at the lack of care Katie received at the hands of GMP when she reported the threat to kill her and their decision to keep vital information from her.

''It is inconceivable to us that the two police officers concerned should protect her assailant, a man with a reported history of violence, than protect a vulnerable girl who lived on her own and who turned to them for help.

''Unbelievably they actively encouraged him to go round to her house to repay an outstanding debt but even worse, by withholding such information from Katie they denied her the opportunity to protect herself.

“She returned to her own home alone and vulnerable, ignorant of the dangerous situation she was in. Since Katie’s murder we have been plunged into unimaginable torture.”

Ghaefelipour, a pizza parlour worker, had arrived in the UK in 2002 and had successfully claimed asylum but Home Office rules meant he could still be deported from the UK if he was convicted and jailed for a year.

In 2007, he torched a woman’s car and front door after she broke off their relationship.  The unnamed woman called police to say he had been harassing her, but they assigned a constable with just 10 months experience to carry out inquiries and he failed to check out an alibi given by Ghaefelipour or trace possible CCTV of the arson attacks.

He was freed without charge and told not to contact the victim but in March 2008 he met Katie at a Salsa dancing class. They had a six month fling but split up the following September when Katie discovered he had raided her bank account of £3,000.

By May the following year Katie - who worked as a senior sister in cardiology at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital - had begun dating a student but bumped into Ghaefelipour at a McDonalds restaurant in Reddish, near Stockport.

A row erupted during which  Ghaefelipour put his fist under Katie's  chin and threatened to kill her. 

Later Katie twice went to a police station to report the incident but despite 18 officers being on duty, she was subjected to 26 different procedural delays before she was seen by two police officers.

A file on the case was then passed onto a policewoman in the domestic violence unit but the names of both victim and suspect were mis-spelt - meaning the officer was unable to check his history.

In the report the IPCC said deportation could have been pursued against Ghaefelipour under the 1971 Immigration Act as the 2007 offence of arson with intent to endanger life was a serious enough offence.