Sarah Ferguson’s tycoon pal launches £900,000 lawsuit against police over the murder of his sister, who was strangled to death with a dog lead by her ex-boyfriend (who had already served a prison sentence in Germany for similar killing)
- Manuel Fernandez, 52, says he suffered ‘damage’ after his sister’s murder
- Maria Stubbings was murdered by Marc Chivers who was jailed for life in 2009
- An inquest in 2014 found police blunders contributed to Miss Stubbings’s death
- But Essex Police deny the grief derailed Mr Fernandez’s career
A close friend of the Duchess of York is suing police for almost £1 million over failings in the run-up to his sister’s murder.
Former sales executive Manuel Fernandez, 52, suffered ‘profound grief, distress, loss and damage’ after Maria Stubbings was strangled to death with a dog lead by her ex-boyfriend.
Marc Chivers, who was jailed for life in 2009 for the murder, had already served a sentence in Germany for killing another girlfriend in a similar manner.
Close: The Duchess of York with Manuel Fernandez, 52, who is suing the police for £1million over failings in the run-up to his sister’s murder
Mr Fernandez is suing Essex Police for £900,000 in damages after describing how his life fell apart and he lost his job following the murder.
A 2013 Independent Police Complaints Commission report concluded there was inadequate assessment of the risk Chivers posed to Miss Stubbings, 50, in the two months leading up to the attack.
Miss Stubbings was murdered at her Chelmsford home two months after Chivers, then 41, was released from a three-month sentence for assaulting her.
He strangled the mother of two with a pink dog lead barely a week after she told police he had burgled her home – a complaint she later withdrew.
An inquest in 2014 found police blunders contributed to Miss Stubbings’s death.
Maria Stubbings (left) was strangled to death by a dog lead by Marc Chivers (right) who had already served a jail term in Germany for a similar murder
Philippa Kauffman QC, representing Mr Fernandez, told Central London County Court the claim was ‘in respect of myriad failings’ by Essex Police officers to protect Miss Stubbings.
She said: ‘As a result of the death of his sister which the police failed to take reasonable steps to prevent, and as a result of learning of those failures, he suffered profound grief, distress, loss and damage.’
The force has admitted liability over Miss Stubbings’s death but disputes her brother’s case that the grief derailed his career, insisting he should be awarded less than £5,000.
Mr Fernandez met Sarah Ferguson, 59, six years ago. They have been seen together at glamorous events and yesterday a spokesman for the duchess confirmed they were ‘good friends’.
An inquest in 2014 found police blunders contributed to Miss Stubbings’s death (pictured here with her daughter) and the force has admitted liability
Mr Fernandez, from Totteridge, north London, last week told the court how, as children, his elder sister looked after him when their single mother was at work.
The ex-soldier, who is now spearheading a tech start-up, vVoosh, says he lost his job earning up to £230,000 a year at data analytics firm Fair Isaac Services after a breakdown following the murder.
Lawyers for Essex Police said he took redundancy and put his time into vVoosh, which is yet to launch but is valued at £6 million and counts the duchess as a trustee on its charitable wing.
‘There’s no way to rub out the events of 2008,’ Mr Fernandez told the court. ‘I am not motivated by money but seeking a remedy in justice that is relevant to how this has impacted not just on my life psychologically, but on how I managed to pick myself up and get on with life.’
For Essex Police, Andrew Warnock QC accepted Mr Fernandez should receive damages for the grief he suffered. But he added: ‘Mr Fernandez has made a choice to “live his dream” and run his own business.’
Chivers was convicted of strangling his previous girlfriend with rope in Germany in 1993. He served a 15-year sentence in Germany and returned to the UK in January 2008, meeting Miss Stubbings two months later.
Judge Alper Riza QC will rule on Mr Fernandez’s case at a later date.