Police and social services ‘should have saved’ vulnerable man, 22

Police and social services ‘should have saved’ vulnerable man, 22, who told care workers evil couple had held him hostage and threatened him just days before his murder, damning report finds

  • Phillip Nicholson, from Poole, Dorset, was murdered in May 2015
  • Isabella Gossling and Richard Moors were jailed for combined 41 years in 2015
  • Pair lured Mr Nicholson to their flat in Bournemouth and stabbed him to death
  • Six days before, he told care workers he had been threatened and held captive

A vulnerable young man who was tormented, tortured and murdered by an evil couple ‘should have been saved’ by police and social workers, a damning report has found.

Six days before the brutal death of Phillip Nicholson, 22, in May 2015, in Bournemouth, he told three care workers he had been held captive in a flat and threatened by twisted Isabella Gossling and violent Richard Moors.

All three should have contacted the police but failed to do so, the report found.


Vulnerable Philip Nicholson, 22, was tormented, tortured and murdered by Isabella Gossling and Richard Moors at Gossling’s flat in Bournemouth in May 2015. A damning report has found that Mr Nicholson ‘should have been saved’ by police and social workers 

Phillip Nicholson, from Poole, Dorset, who suffered from learning difficulties, had previously been in a relationship with Gossling in which she had repeatedly bullied and robbed him

A week before that, it was reported to the police that Mr Nicholson had received death threats from the pair, but they did not follow the complaint up.

Mr Nicholson, from Poole, Dorset, who suffered from learning difficulties, had previously been in a relationship with Gossling in which she had repeatedly bullied and robbed him.

She and new boyfriend Moors lured Mr Nicholson to her flat and carried out a prolonged attack on him which was recorded on Gossling’s mobile phone. 

The chilling moment that the couple, who got engaged just hours after the murder, escorted Mr Nicholson to the flat was recorded on CCTV.

They had fooled him into believing there was another woman there who wanted to meet him. 

Once inside, they carried out the prolonged and brutal attack, slashing his throat with a knife. 

CCTV cameras showed the chilling moment the couple, who got engaged just hours after the murder, escorted Mr Nicholson (front, centre) to the flat, having fooled him into believing there was another woman there who wanted to meet him 

In a harrowing 17 minute recording, Mr Nicholson was heard repeatedly apologising and begging to go home before he was killed.

He pleaded: ‘Stop, because I don’t want you to, please. I don’t want to be threatened. I just want to be friends.’ 

Afterwards the couple were seen on CCTV walking away from the scene hand-in-hand and with their arms around each other while on a bus.  


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Gossling, now aged 23, and Moors, 28, were jailed for a combined 41 years after being found guilty of Mr Nicholson’s murder in 2015.

An official review held by Bournemouth and Poole Borough Council’s safeguarding adult board into the disturbing case has concluded that Mr Nicholson’s life should have been saved.

The review said: ‘There is undoubtedly evidence that professionals had the knowledge, the legal means and the opportunity to stop the violent incident from occurring but did not take the steps to do so.

 Mr Nicholson told three care workers six days before his death that he had been held captive in a flat and threatened by twisted Isabella Gossling and violent Richard Moors, but they did not contact police. The brutal pair were later pictured with their arms around each other on a bus (left, second from front)

‘The police should have intervened more robustly when Phillip reported the threats.

‘These were key opportunities to intervene which seem likely to have afforded Phillip greater protection and may have restrained the behaviour of Gossling and Moors for a time.

‘Tragically for Phillip and his family these opportunities were not taken.’

The couple were also seen on CCTV walking from the scene hand-in-hand after the murder

Mr Nicholson’s grieving parents, Chris and Michelle Nicholson, today slammed the ‘inadequate’ care given to his son by both social care workers and police officers.

In a statement they said: ‘Following his death it soon became evident that professional agencies had received significant information regarding threats to Phillip’s life made by his assailants before they killed him.

‘We have strove to find answers to why this tragedy occurred and how the professional organisations tasked with Phillip’s care should have intervened to protect Phillip.

A week before Mr Nicholson contacted social workers, it was reported to the police (pictured with forensics officers at Gossling’s flat in 2015) that Mr Nicholson had received death threats from the pair, but they did not follow the complaint up

‘Sadly it has become evident that significant failings and omissions were made by those organisations which we strongly believe could have prevented his death.

‘The review report highlights numerous shortcomings in Phillip’s protection and care by those organisations under review.

‘We support the findings of the report and the lessons that need to be learnt.

‘It is our greatest wish that no other family whose child, whether a vulnerable adult or a minor, should be let down by those professionals required to care for him or her. It provides us with no comfort having lost Phillip.’

Misconduct proceedings against three police officers whose ‘woeful’ investigation into the threats to kill Mr Nicholson resulted in them being re-trained.

The Nicholson family are now pursuing a civil case against Dorset Police and Poole Borough Council over the case. 

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