IN THE SUPREME COURT
WESTBURY POLICE (RESPONDENT)
Facts of the case
In 2015, Janet Caswell was the victim of a violent attack, as she walked to her car after finishing her shift at the local hospital. Janet was beaten and stabbed multiple times and despite the valiant attempts of the emergency services to save her life, her injuries were so severe that she died twenty minutes later. The attack was caught on a CCTV camera and her killer, Tony Moffett, was arrested and convicted of her murder.
At the trial, it was revealed that Moffett had been Janet’s boyfriend for eighteen months, but she had terminated the relationship six months before the attack. During her relationship with Moffett, Janet had been the victim of domestic abuse, which included a number of physical beatings and psychological abuse. Following a particularly vicious attack, which resulted in severe bruising, head injuries and a fractured wrist, Janet ended the relationship and reported Moffett to the police. As a result, Moffett was arrested and charged, but was later released on bail, against the wishes of the police, who believed that there was a strong possibility that Moffett would seek revenge against Janet. The judge who granted bail, ordered Moffett not to contact Janet or to go anywhere near her hometown.
Following his release on bail, Moffett made several phone calls to Janet, threatening to “shut her up for good”. Janet reported this to the police. The police responded to this by giving Moffett a verbal warning and ordering him to make no further contact with Janet. The following day, Moffett attacked and murdered Janet.
Janet Caswell’s father claims that the Defendants were negligent due to their failure to take proper steps to investigate the position and to protect Janet. The Defendants have denied that they owed a duty of care to Janet Caswell in this situation.
In the High Court of Justice, it was held that the defendant owed no duty of care to the claimant on the following grounds:
There was an insufficiently proximate relationship between the parties; and
It would not be fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care on the Defendant.
In the Court of Appeal, the decision of the lower court and the reasons for that decision were upheld.
Case before the Supreme Court:
Ms. Caswell’s father now appeals to the Supreme Court on the grounds that:
Westbury police owed a duty of care to Janet Caswell because there was sufficient proximity between them.
It is fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty on the Defendant in the circumstances.