Police failed to follow up report of domestic violence, says Mont-Saint-Hilaire woman

A Mont-Saint-Hilaire woman says police let her report of domestic violence slip through the cracks last fall when they failed to even follow up after she spoke to an officer.

The young woman, who did not wish to use her name out of fear for her safety, told CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada she went to the Richelieu-Saint-Laurent intermunicipal police service after her ex-partner tried to hit her with his vehicle.

After speaking with an officer at a police station and filing a report, the woman said she was told an investigator would contact her within three days. They would also document threatening text messages she says she had received from her ex.

"I never heard from the investigators," she said. "A week later, I decided to call them to follow up because I had no news."

Her story comes to light after Daphné Huard-Boudreault, 18, was killed on March 22 as she returned to the apartment in Mont-Saint-Hilaire she had shared with her ex-boyfriend.

Anthony Pratte-Lops has been charged with first-degree murder.

A police officer was assigned to escort Huard-Boudreault at the time of her death.  That officer arrived minutes too late.

Critics have said the case highlights the need for police to revisit their procedures when dealing with conjugal violence.

Quebec's independent police investigation unit has been called in to determine how police handled Huard-Boudreault's case.

Police cannot explain failure

The woman said she left a message for the officer she had initially contacted, but was never called back.

Two and a half months later she received a call from a Crown prosecutor who said her file had made its way to their office. However, there were no details in the file, and they did not understand why.

Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police Chief inspector Yanic Parent confirmed that a request was made to retrieve the threatening texts on the woman's phone, but he could not say why it was not done or why an investigator never called back the complainant.

"I can tell you the policeman on this file took the complaint. He took the woman seriously and asked questions. This file didn't stay on the shelf. It was submitted to Crown prosecutors," said Parent.

He added the woman can get back in contact with police regarding her complaint.

Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions did not want to comment on the case.

Police must act within 24 hours

Former Montreal police officer Guy Ryan said that all domestic violence cases should be treated as a priority.

"We can't say we'll call you in a week or a week and a half. If something bad happens, it will be our fault," said Ryan.

He believes once a complaint is made, the file must be put into the hands of investigators who should contact the victim within 24 hours.

The woman said she's disappointed with the police, overall.

"Yes, it's possible to make mistakes, but in this case, it's important to do a follow up after a complaint is filed, so that victims feel safe. But also so that people in the community also feel they are safe," she said.