A MAN who was beaten to death by a thug in Basildon was not failed by police, a watchdog has ruled.

John Masser died following an assault in Moss Drive, Basildon on October 1, 2017. He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries, and sadly died on Tuesday October 3.

An investigation into Essex Police’s handling of the case was carried out by The Independent Office For Police Conduct (IOPC).

The investigation found that the force had investigated several prior incidents where the 49-year-old had been the victim of abusive and threatening language, and physical assaults.

The man who assaulted him, Steven Keeble, 37, was subsequently jailed for life for his murder.

Thurrock Gazette:

Steven Keeble was jailed for Mr Masser's murder

Mr Masser had been repeatedly targeted by local individuals both before and after an historic allegation of rape was made against him, which ultimately proved to be the motivating factor behind the assault that killed him.

He always denied the allegation relating to an incident 30 years prior, and was due to stand trial two months after his death. Subsequently, no further action has been taken.

An IOPC spokesman said: “The evidence suggested Essex Police did attempt a number of prosecutions against those involved in victimising the man, with one proving successful. However, the man declined to support a number of potential prosecutions – including one against the man who would ultimately go on to murder him.

“Essex Police addressed safeguarding and welfare concerns with other agencies, but one of the key elements to the man’s safety – namely a new address – could not be secured. The evidence suggested this ultimately proved to be a factor in his death.

“Based on the evidence available we found no indication that any person serving with the police may have behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings or had committed a criminal offence.

“Our investigation was put on hold until after the murder trial had concluded and was completed in May 2019.”

Keeble, of Moss Close, Basildon, denied murdering Mr Masser, but was found guilty following a ten day trial at Basildon Crown Court and was jailed for a minimum of 14 years.

The court heard how on Sunday, October 1, Keeble had attended an address in Moss Drive, following a dispute with his partner.

A short time later Mr Masser attended the same location and following a brief exchange was assaulted by Keeble who forced him to the floor and repeatedly kicked him in the head and neck area.

The court heard how Keeble took an "intense dislike" to Mr Masser due to the rape allegation.

Essex Police were contacted but stated they had no further comments to make.