A group of cross-party MPs and select committee chairs have tabled an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill that would make arrangements for serial and serious domestic abuse perpetrators and stalkers to be registered and monitored in the same way other serial and violent offenders are.
I have worked on many cases over the years and the same failures, the same patterns repeat. The lessons are never learned.
When women and girls report the known men who abuse, terrorise, rape and stalk them more often they are not believed and the perpetrator’s behaviour is left unchecked, despite the fact they may have abused multiple women.
In fact, even if a perpetrator abuses 3, 5 or 18 women, they are no more likely to go to prison than if they abuse one woman.
Women are being spectacularly failed every day. It is systemic failure and we need urgent law and culture change to focus on the perpetrator’s behaviour.
I coined the term ‘murder in slow motion’ for a reason. Most of the violence against women and girls cases are just that – a ‘drip-drip-drip’ of abusive behaviour over time and perpetrators who are not stopped or held to account – and so they continue and we continue to count the costs in women’s and girls lives
Each day since the beginning of May I have highlighted utterly horrific and heartbreaking cases on Twitter where serial perpetrators have abused multiple women and sometimes killed up to 3-4 women:
- Theodore Johnson coercively control, abused and murdered three women, Yvonne Johnson, Yvonne Bennett and Angela Best. In 1981, he was sentenced to three years for killing Yvonne Johnson. They argued as she said he need to be smart for Church. He hit her over the head. He was cleared of murder but convicted of murder by provocation (she nagged him). The Judge described him as a ‘battered husband.’ In 1993 he killed Yvonne Bennett. He strangled her as their 2-year-old daughter slept. He was released after just four years. He then met Angela Best. He struck her repeatedly with a claw hammer. He then took a dressing gown cord and wound it around her neck. He strangled and murdered Angela in 2016. In case any one is unclear, Johnson is a serial killer.
- Darren Trigg abused and murdered two women, Caroline Devlin and Susan Nicholson he had relationships with. There was a history of domestic abuse in both cases before Trigg murdered them, yet Sussex Police failed to take any action after the post-mortems and did not identify any suspicious circumstances. At least two officers were involved in the investigations of both murders but the similarities between the cases were not identified as suspicious. An independent police inquiry identified “missed opportunities”
- Simon Mellows murdered two women, Pearl Black and Janet Scott. He murdered Pearl and then when he came out of prison, he began a relationship with Janet Scott. Mellows coercively controlled her, threatened her and tried to kill her. She reported to police and probation. Mellows should have been recalled on licence but no action was taken, and Janet was brutally murdered. The Ministry of Justice apologised for their “unacceptable failings” that allowed Mellors to kill another woman.
- Keith Ward murdered Julie Stead and Valerie Middleton. He met Julie in 1981 where she was working in pub. He was violent to her and she was put in a refuge. He stalked her and found her. She was pregnant and he punched her in the stomach and she went into premature labour. He was still with his wife when he was seeing Julie and his wife was pregnant at the same time as Julie. He strangled Julie and killed her whilst the two children were downstairs. Ward presented himself as a victim at court and the jury bought it, despite a history of violence. They acquitted him of murdered and found him guilty of manslaughter due to provocation. He was sentenced to just four years. Whilst on weekend release he was with his other girlfriend, Valerie Middleton. They argued whilst she was in the bath and he beat her to death. He claimed she provoked him. The jury convicted him of murder. Two sets of children lost their mother.
- Paul O’Hara murdered two women, Janine Waterworth and Cherylee Shannan. O’Hara attacked and murdered Janine in an alleyway in 1998. He stabbed her with a carving knife twelve times. He was jailed for her murder but came out on licence on March 2012. In March 2013 he strangled and stabbed Cherylee to death. The Parole Board were told he was dangerous. They didn’t listen.
- Shaun Clarke murdered two women, Patricia Sykes and Donna Wilson. He strangled Patricia after she ended the relationship. He served 16 years and was deemed ‘low risk.’ Clarke started a new relationship with Donna and she knew nothing about his history. He abused, assaulted and stalked her on separation and Donna reported him to Staffordshire Police. He was not arrested and he murdered her the next weekend. He stabbed her nine times and she had 46 separate injuries.
- Nicholas Allen coercively controlled and stalked Justene Reece. She took her own life and wrote in her note that she had “run out of fight.” He desecrated her mother’s grave, he threatened to kill her children he made her life unbearable, the Judge said. Justene had reported Allen 34 time to Staffordshire Police. 16 allegations were not cross referenced with any previous reports. Seven of the 14 police call outs were not cross checked at all. It was revealed in court that Allen had a string of convictions for violence against women and girls including harassment – stalking. After Justene’s death, Allen was convicted of stalking, coercive control and manslaughter. Why wasn’t Allen arrested and charged? Why was his history not joined up? Allen was jailed for 10 years in 2017. He will be out in a few years and the next relationship he has; will no doubt be the same.
- Joshua Stimpson abused and stalked Molly McLaren and at least two women before Molly. Molly knew nothing about Stimpson’s history. She ended the relationship and he followed her to the gym and stabbed her 75 times in the car park. His former girlfriend, Alexandra Dale, reported him to Staffordshire Police. Stimpson had threatened to stab and kill her. No action was taken, despite the stalking law being in place and the history was not joined up.
- Marc Chivers stalked and murdered two women when they split up with him. In 1992 Chivers strangled Sabine Rappold with a rope and buried her body in Germany. He served 15 years and was deported to the UK. Within weeks he met Maria Stubbings in Essex. He coercively controlled, sexually assaulted and attacked her. He was sentenced to four months in prison in July 2008. He then stalked Maria and broke into her house. He stole her medication. Weeks later police called at her house and Chivers was there and he said Maria had gone out. Maria’s body was in the downstairs bathroom. He had strangled her with a dog lead.
- Noel Fox had relationships with four women who died ‘suddenly and unexpectedly’ including Mairead Mcallion, Diane Conway and Catriona Fulton. Mairead Mcallion was found with head injuries on February 23 2014 in Omagh. A coroner ruled last month that 36-year-old Mairead died from head injuries sustained as her partner Knox forced her out of his Omagh home in 2014. During the inquest, Knox admitted that he had put two hands on Mairead and moved her out of his house, but he always denied any wrongdoing. The coroner said that some of the 36-year-old’s hair had been pulled out by the roots and that she died the following day from a bleed on the brain. There was a history of abuse and violence.
Diane Conway was found dead in 2002 and Catriona Fulton in 2006. Fox was domineering, abusive and violent to both women. Despite this, their deaths were not investigated. The local Reverend Daniel Mcfaul said Fox was a ‘gentleman’ ‘the life and soul of the party’ ‘always up for banter.’ The evidence of four dead women who suffered at his hands suggests otherwise. Fox was a serial killer who targeted vulnerable women.
- Lesley Ross dated 3 women and after a history of abuse, Margaret Weise, Michele Bickerstaff and Elizabeth Mckee died ‘suddenly and unexpectedly.’
- Asher Maslin stalked and murdered Hollie Gazzard. Maslin was involved in 24 previous violent offences including 3 on Hollie, 12 on former partners, 3 on his mother and 4 on others.
- Joe Storey stalked and murdered Kerri McAuley. Kerri had 19 injuries – Storey broke every bone in Kerri’s face. She reported him to police for beating her and threatening to kill her before the murder. However, despite the fact he had many convictions for assaults on women dating back to when he was 14, Storey’s history was not joined up and Kerri was left unprotected. Storey had violently attacked five previous girlfriends dating back to 2008, and at the time of the murder had three restraining orders to protect former partners.
- Myles Williams stalked and murdered Kirsty Treloar. He had a history of violence against women and Kirsty was scared of him. She reported him to police but his history was not joined up. he stabbed her multiple times, tried to kill her sister and brother who attempted to protect her and dragged her bloodied body out the house. He left her body by a wheelie bin. Kirsty had just had a baby.
- Michael Lane stalked and murdered Shana Grice. Shana eported to Sussex Police. They gave her a Fixed Penalty Notice for wasting police time. He had abused 13 girls before Shana.
- David Gikawa stabbed his ex-partner Linah Keza to death in her east London home. She reported him to the Metropolitan Police Service numerous times and she went to a solicitor to seek a non-molestation order. She highlighted in detail how, over four years, she was harassed, stalked, coercively controlled, intimidated and abused by a man who punched her, attempted to strangle her, suffocated her with a pillow, put a knife in her mouth, threatened to kill any man who came near her and was known to carry a gun in her statement.Linah was terrified of him & finally ended the relationship in June 2013. Gikawa had eight convictions and had been in prison. In 2006 he accepted a caution for assaulting a partner. On July 28 she called the police three times as he was stalking her and he was outside her house. He slashed her friend’s car tyres and threatened to harm him in Ugandan. On 31 July, Gikawa entered Keza’s home and stabbed her three times in front of their two-year-old daughter. The police failed to check the intelligence and his history.
- Mario Celaire raped a 17-year-old girl when he was 15 years old. He was sentenced to four years. He met 15-year-old Cassandra McDermott. She knew nothing about his history. He was arrested and put before a court. He was acquitted. He then met Kara Hoyte and dated her. He abused her and attacked her with a hammer. She was lucky to survive. She spent three days in a coma and couldn’t speak for nine months. She eventually identified Celaire as her attacker. He was arrested and charged for Kara’s attempted murder and re-arrested for Cassandra’s murder under the double jeopardy law. He was convicted of both.
- Jonathan Vass coercively controlled, raped, stalked and murdered A&E nurse Jane Clough. She had just had a baby. When she reported to police he stalked and killed her. He stabbed her 71 one times and cut her throat. He also abused his former partners.
- Marvyn Iheanacho beat five-year-old Alex Malcolm to death. He came out of prison and started a new relationship with Alex’s mother, Liliya Breha. Iheanacho had a history of violence against women and girls dating back to 1994. No-one told Liliya. He was not supposed to have unsupervised contact with children. He was a manipulative high-risk offender with a history of domestic abuse and intimidating probation officers.
- Andrew Cairns stalked and murdered pregnant Rachael Slack and her 23-month-old baby, Auden. Cairns had a history of abuse.
- Brian Taylor stabbed Katie Boardman 82 times. She had called Greater Manchester Police 11 times previously. none of these calls not the patter was joined up. Five of the calls were the week that she was murdered. But Greater Manchester Police failed to link various incidents – instead handling the complaints ‘in isolation’. The report the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), concluded that there was a ‘clear failure to identify the pattern of problems’. Katie, 24, was killed at her home, on October 9 2008 while two of her three children were in the house.
- George Appleton stalked, sexually assaulted, strangled and murdered Clare Wood in Salford in 2009. He set her body on fire. He had been sentenced to three years for harassing a woman (stalking), jailed again for sixth months for breaching a restraining order and he had abused other women. Clare reported him multiple times to Greater Manchester Police and at no time was she told about his violent past. An alarm was put in her house after Appleton attempted to rape her and he was arrested a week before her murder for smashing down her front door. An Independent Police Complaints Commission report concluded she was let down by “individual and systemic” failures by Greater Manchester Police. Understatement of the year, quite frankly. After Claire’s murder more women were left unprotected and were subsequently murdered.
- David Potts broke into the home of Tracy Jones, and her three children and doused petrol throughout the ground floor and set it alight in September 2011. Tracy and her fifteen year old son Shaun died in the fire and Tracy’s other children Cailin, then 18, and Zach, then four, were also badly hurt. Potts made a threat to kill Tracy before he did it. Tracy had recently separated from him and reported him to Greater Manchester Police many times but his history of violence and abuse was not joined up.
- Michael Cope raped, strangled and murdered Linzi Ashton on June 29 2014. Linzi had reported him to Greater Manchester Police for two offences of strangulation, rape and threats to kill. Cope told her he was prepared to kill her and do the time for the crime. By the age of 20, Cope already had convictions for grievous bodily harm, violence against strangers and family members, violence against two former partners, in the case of both of them, strangulation, with chilling echoes of Linzi’s murder. Linzi knew nothing of his violent history. At court he admitted to assaulting Linzi three times prior to killing her. The rape charge was not pursued and so that is not on his record. Linzi was a mother to two daughters who were seven and two at the time. They will grow up without their mother, because a violent and entitled man was allowed to kill her.
These are not ‘isolated incidents.’ Women are routinely failed on a micro and macro level.
There were many opportunities for intervention and prevention.
These men had extensive histories of coercive control and stalking. They were allowed to offend with impunity.
It is women and children that are being abused, terrorised, raped, stalked and murdered at pandemic rates – and whereas pandemics are unpredictable and very difficult to control – male violence can be controlled and stopped if it mattered enough.
We must make these violent men visible. We must make these violent men accountable.
The Domestic Abuse Bill presents the opportunity for real change. I strongly urge the Government to look at the evidence base of hundreds of women and girls who have been abused, terrorised, raped and murdered by serial domestic violence offenders and stalkers who were allowed to offend with impunity and ensure this important amendment is supported in the DA Bill.
And those who are against this are, quite frankly, part of the problem.
If you would like to help and support the campaign please:
WRITE TO YOUR MP (click the link) and ask for them to support Amendment 49.