This thing about male victims

A couple of weeks ago, The Independent ran an article on male victims of domestic violence. There were some factual inaccuracies in the report along with the use of the statistic that one in three victims of domestic abuse in Britain is male. I challenged these on twitter. I received the response below from a professional referenced in the article

alan idva3

But I’m not going to move on. I’d prefer to talk about this statistic because it is unhelpful at best, it is derailing and dangerous at worst.

The claim of gender parity in domestic violence, or at least of much less difference than is conventionally believed, is nothing new, in fact it’s been popping up – and out of the mouths of Men’s Rights Activists – since at least the 1970ies.  No matter how often or how robustly ‘gender symmetry’ claims are rebuffed and refuted, its advocates continue to regurgitate their position.

‘A third of all victims of abuse are male’

The data referenced, that approximately a third of victims of domestic abuse in the UK are male comes from data from the British Crime Survey. It contrasts significantly from data from police crime reports which estimate that between 80-90% of violence against the person reported is by women assaulted by men.

The main problems with the statistic that a third of reports are by men are

    • It is about domestic abuse and/or conflict, not domestic violence
    • The data does not differentiate between cases where there is one incident of physical conflict/abuse/violence or those where violence is repeated. If we look at the data for where there have been four or more incidents, then approximately 80% of victims are women
    • The data does not differentiate between incidents where violence and abuse are used as systematic means of control and coercion and where they are not
    • The data does not include sexual assault and sexual violence
    • The data does not take account of the different levels of severity of abuse/violence, ‘gender symmetry’ is clustered at lower levels of violence
    • The data does not take account of the impact of violence, whether the level of injury arising from the violence or the level of fear. Women are six times more likely to need medical attention for injuries resulting from violence and are much more likely to be afraid
    • The data does not differentiate between acts of primary aggression and self-defence, approximately three quarters of violence committed by women is done in self-defence or is retaliatory.

In fact, if these issues are taken into account, research consistently finds that violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women and levels are consistent with data of reports from the police. This is supported by data from the Crown Prosecution Service that shows that across the five years between 2007/8 and 2011/12, 93.4% of those convicted for crimes relating to domestic violence were men.

Looking at sexual offences

43,869 sexual offences were recorded by police in England and Wales in 2011/12.

In the same year:

    • 96.7% of cautions issues for sexual offences were to males
    • 98.2% of prosecutions for sexual offences were against males
    • 99% of convictions for those found guilty of sexual offences were male

54% of UK rapes are committed by a woman’s current or former partner.

But that doesn’t mean that there is gender parity if sexual offences are excluded from consideration.

‘It’s harder for men to report, there’s much more of a taboo for men’

Exactly the opposite:

    • men are more – not less – likely to call the police
    • men are more likely – not less – to support a prosecution
    • men are less likely – not more – withdraw their support of charges.1

Another way to get round the issue of unrepresentative reporting is to look at who gets killed, dead people don’t get the choice of whether or not to inform the police. UK Homicide records between 2001/2 and 2011/12 (11 years) show that on average 5.7% (296 total) of male homicide victims and 44.2%(1066) of female homicide victims are killed by a partner or ex-partner. Expressed as an average of those killed by a partner or former partner over 11 years, 22% were men, 78% were women.

Note, the domestic homicide figures do not tell us the sex of the perpetrator, nor is the sex of the perpetrator revealed for all other types of homicide. Men are overwhelmingly killed by other men – regardless of the relationship between victim and perpetrator. Women are overwhelmingly killed by men – regardless of the relationship between victim and perpetrator

‘Maybe the police see what they expect to see, gender stereotypes mean that men are more likely to be perceived as the aggressor’

Except that they’re not. Research by Marianne Hester (2009), found that women were arrested to a disproportionate degree given the fewer incidents where they were perpetrators. During a six year study period men were arrested one in every ten incidents, women were arrested one in every three incidents.

When women do use violence, they are at risk of greater levels or retaliatory violence.

Women are penalised, not excused, not invisible, if they transgress gender stereotypes.

‘Women make false allegations’

Except when they don’t and in the vast majority of cases they don’t.

The Crown Prosecution Service recently released data from a 17 month period in which there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence in England and Wales. Over the same timescale, there were only 35 prosecutions for making false allegations of rape, six for false allegations of domestic violence and three that involved false allegations of both rape and domestic violence.

‘Women exaggerate’

Women overestimate their own use of violence but underestimate their victimisation. Women normalise, discount, minimise, excuse their partners’ domestic and sexual violence against them. Women find ways to make it their fault.

In contrast, men overestimate their victimisation and underestimate their own violence.2 Men are more likely to exaggerate a women’s provocation or violence to make excuses for initiating violence and, where retaliation has occurred, in an attempt to make it appear understandable and reasonable. Paul Keene, used the defence of provocation for his killing of Gaby Miron Buchacra. His defence claimed that he was belittled by her intellectual superiority and that he lost control after rowing with her by text over a twelve hour period. That a jury accepted his defence is a further example of how men’s violence is minimised and excused. Not only by men and the women they assault, but by the legal system. The right to claim abuse as a mitigating factor in domestic violence homicide cases was vitally important for women like Kiranjit Aluwahlia, Emma Humphreys and Sara Thornton, all of whom had suffered years of violence and abuse at the hands of the men they killed. That such a defence could be used in Paul Keene’s case only illustrates how differently women and men who use violence are treated.

A feminist perspective, based on an understanding of socially constructed gender roles and differences within the framework of patriarchal society does not mean that all men are violent to women, or that men are genetically pre-disposed to violence. It means the opposite. It means that women and men are socialised and that – within the limits of choice permitted by the social environment – we can choose to be different.

Whether coming from an anti-feminist Men’s Right Activist perspective, or from a
genuine desire to support those men who are victims of domestic or sexual violence, those who use statistics that overstate similarities between male and female violence are either doing so wilfully, to pursue their own agenda, or because they genuinely haven’t taken the time to – or have failed to – understand the statistics.

I have no desire to deny any man’s reality. Denying women’s much greater suffering as victims of domestic and/or sexual violence is a political act. The differences between men and women’s use of violence and experiences of victimisation do not need to be denied or minimised for all victims to be deserving of safety and support. It is quite possible to believe that no woman, child, or man deserves to be a victim of sexual or domestic violence (or indeed of any other type of violence) whist maintaining a feminist agenda to end women’s oppression.

Footnotes

1 Kimmel 2002

2Dobash et al. 1998

Any man experiencing domestic violence can contact the men’s advice line

What about the men?

This post has been updated.

I’ve been counting and commemorating the UK women killed through male violence in 2012. But sometimes it’s important to focus on men. So I’ve been looking at the men who have been accused of killing women.

When I wrote the piece ‘Counting dead women’ earlier this year on 25th March, I wrote about 112 UK women killed through male violence in 2012, but in researching trial outcomes, that number needs to be revisited, to be increased to 114. The list of women’s names can be found in an earlier piece.

The 114 women were killed by 109 men, four men were multiple killers. One man killed three women, three men killed two.

So far, 39 men have been found guilty of murdering 41 women.

Ten men, who killed 12 women between them have killed themselves. Five men shot themselves after shooting seven women, one man drowned himself after drowning his partner, one man hanged himself after strangling his partner and of three men who stabbed women they were or had been married to, one killed himself through poisoning, one by slitting his own throat and one in what is described as a serious self-harm incident whilst in prison.

Nine men have been found not guilty or murder but guilty of manslaughter. Even the name manslaughter renders women invisible. Of the nine men found not guilty of murder, four have mental health problems; three of these men have been given indefinite sentences and the fourth is on an interim hospital order awaiting sentencing. Of the remaining five men found not guilty of murder but of the lesser charge of manslaughter, four of them have occupations listed as: ex- RAF, sculptor, ex-clerk and administrator. They were sentenced for four years, seven and a half years, five years and seven years and four months respectively. It’s beyond the scope of this piece and my resources to undertake a sophisticated class analysis looking at whether class can be seen to have a bearing on whether the killing of a woman results in a murder conviction or one of manslaughter; but those four occupations, especially when compared to those of the men found guilty of murder, suggest to me that a relationship between class and conviction cannot be discounted. The remaining man was found not guilty of murder but convicted of manslaughter with a sentence of only seven and a half years, despite killing a woman by stabbing/slashing her 11 times in what was described as a frenzied attack and a history of 25 court appearances for 44 offences, which include offences relating to domestic violence.

15 men killed their mothers, or have been accused of their killing. One man has been found guilty of killing his grandmother.

The average age of men who have been accused of killing UK women in 2012 is 39. The average age of the women killed is 44. If the men who killed their mothers (or grandmother) and those who preyed on elderly women because of their vulnerability are removed, the average age of male killers becomes 40 and that of women killed becomes 39.

It’s often the case that details of how men have chosen to kill women are not reported until the case has gone to trial, so the following list is still incomplete. However, from what has been reported to date, the primary means selected by men to cause death to women have been:

  • Shot: 6 women
  • Stabbed: 32 women
  • Stabbed and beaten: 2 women
  • Blunt force trauma: 6 women
  • Strangled: 12 women
  • Asphyxiation : 1 woman
  • Drowning: 1 woman
  • Hammer injuries: 2 women
  • Stabbed/axed/slashed: 4 women
  • Multiple injuries from kicking and beating: 9 women
  • Burned: 1 woman
  • Fire: 2 women
  • Head Injuries: 10 women.

When we look at women killed by men, it is important that we look at men too.

The 107, 109, 114, 118, 119 …. 144 UK women killed with a male primary suspect in 2012

By 31st December 2012, I’d counted and named 107 women. 107 women UK women killed in 365 days, making one woman killed through suspected male violence every 3.4 days.

What I hadn’t really expected was that even though the year had ended, the list would continue to grow.  nia, the organisation I work for joined One Billion Rising on 14th February 2013.  We released a balloon for every UK woman killed in 2012.  While we were planning the event, 107 women became 109.

By the end of July 2012, the 109 UK women killed through suspected male violence had become 114, then 118, updates reflecting the killings of women that I hadn’t known about or details emerging at trials that had not previously been in the public domain.

In October 2013, updated to include Carole Waugh and then later Louise Evans, the number of  UK women killed through male violence in 2012, was 120.

In July 2017, updating the list of women to address methodological inconsistencies and include women’s whose deaths I became aware of through Freedom of Information requests carried out on behalf of The Femicide Census, I’ve now recorded the names of 141 women: 141 women killed or suspected to have been killed by a man, or where a man was or was suspected of being the principal perpetrator. That’s 1 woman dead every 2.6 days.

One the 1 August 2022, I made a further update,143 were now listed. Within 3 days, another update was required when a man was charged with the murder of Claire Holland, who has not been seen since ‘disappearing’ in Bristol on 6 July 2012.

(Last updated 4 August 2022)

Name Age at death Date of death or disappearance
1 Susan McGoldrick 47 01-Jan
2 Tanya Turnbull 24 01-Jan
3 Alison Turnbull 44 01-Jan
4 Hazel Woolley 73 01-Jan
5 Kirsty Treloar 20 02-Jan
6 Claire O’Connor 38 02-Jan
7 Betty Yates 77 02-Jan
8 Kathleen Milward 87 03-Jan
9 Marie McGrory 39 03-Jan
10 Becky McPhee 47 05-Jan
11 Carole Kolar (and husband Avtar) 58 11-Jan
12 Sarah Laycock 31 15-Jan
13 Carolyn Ellis 32 17-Jan
14 Alethea Taylor 63 19-Jan
15 Irene Lawless 67 23-Jan
16 Stacey Mackie 35 27-Jan
17 Josephine Gilliard 42 05-Feb
18 Michelle Creed 34 05-Feb
19 Cheryl Tariah 17 07-Feb
20 Patricia Cairns 42 07-Feb
21 Jenny Methven 80 20-Feb
22 Margaret Biddolph 78 20-Feb
23 Annie Leyland 88 20-Feb
24 Samantha Laney 19 21-Feb
25 Debbie Johnson 43 24-Feb
26 Sarah Gosling 41 25-Feb
27 Fozia Ahmed 24 29-Feb
28 Gemma McCluskie 29 06-Mar
29 Kimberley Frank 17 10-Mar
30 Samantha Sykes 19 10-Mar
31 Leanne McNuff 24 11-Mar
32 Lesley Larner 59 13-Mar
33 Yong Li Qui 42 25-Mar
34 Elizabeth Coriat 76 24-Mar
35 Constance (Connie) French 80 27-Mar
36 Suzanne Jones 40 30-Mar
37 Lisa Hoolahan 30 31-Mar
38 Sally Ann Harrison 24 04-Apr
39 Mariam Mohdaqi 50 06-Apr
40 Afsana Kossar 35 11-Apr
41 Jacqueline Harrison 47 12-Apr
42 Da In Lee 22 09-Apr
43 Sara Williams 40 16-Apr
44 Julie Davison 50 25-Apr
45 Corrin Barker 31 26-Apr
46 Samantha Warren 33 29-Apr
47 Jean Blakey 55 29-Apr
48 Natalie Esack 33 30-Apr
49 Carole Waugh 49 April
50 Saiba Khatoon 26 08-May
51 Lynda Jackson 56 09-May
52 Christine Pearmain 64 11-May
53 Beata Hausner 26 13-May
54 Margaret Hobson 59 18-May
55 Jennifer Hume 55 18-May
56 Hannah Windsor 17 19-May
57 Lauren O’Neill 18 19-May
58 Annette Sturt 49 20-May
59 Elisabeth Carroll 64 21-May
60 Naomi Asante 46 21-May
61 Deborah Morris 51 25-May
62 Rushna Begum 28 25-May
63 Tuanjai Sprengel 43 26-May
64 Bernadeta Jakubszyk 30 28-May
65 Ksenija Vorosilina 28 28-May
66 Emma Winnall 93 29-May
67 Kelly Davies 31 02-Jun
68 Claire Holland 32 06-Jun
69 Razu Khanum 38 08-Jun
70 Megan-Leigh Peat 15 09-Jun
71 Marian Stones 58 10-Jun
72 Carmen Miron Buchacra 28 10-Jun
73 Angela Crompton 34 11-Jun
74 Margot Sheehy 58 12-Jun
75 Eystna Blunnie 20 26-Jun
76 Esther Arogundade 32 26-Jun
77 Judith Ege 58 30-Jun
78 Christine Henderson 50 01-Jul
79 Janice Smithen 46 02-Jul
80 Patricia Seddon (& husb Bob) 65 06-Jul
81 Catrina Rae 32 06-Jul
82 Gillian Andrade 39 08-Jul
83 Louise Evans 32 10-Jul
84 Linda Sheard 63 11-Jul
85 Claire Parrish 37 15-Jul
86 Barbara Yates 49 18-Jul
87 Leah Whittle 42 21-Jul
88 Pam Wheeler 76 04-Jul
89 Patricia Wilson 58 17-Aug
90 Eileen Callaghan 76 04-Aug
91 Natasha Trevis 22 07-Aug
92 Diana Lee 54 09-Aug
93 Eleftheria Demetriou 79 15-Aug
94 Hester Mottershead 90 17-Aug
95 Jane Archbold 77 21-Aug
96 Delia Hughes 85 18-Aug
97 Jaqcueline McDonagh 34 29-Aug
98 Lynda Brown 63 01-Sep
99 Annette Creegan 49 02-Sep
100 Maureen Tyler 79 27/28 Aug
101 Charlotte Smith 41 06-Sep
102 Hazel Bailey 82 07-Sep
103 Catherine Wells-Burr 23 12-Sep
104 Kayleigh Buckley 17 17-Sep
105 Kim Buckley 46 17-Sep
106 Fiona Bone 32 18-Sep
107 Nicola Hughes 23 18-Sep
108 Jade Riley Ward 30 22-Sep
109 Sharlana Diedrick 32 29-Sep
110 Natalie Jarvis 23 03-Oct
111 Ann Morris 63 05-Oct
112 Pauline Gillen 69 06-Oct
113 Sally Lawrence 53 06-Oct
114 Margaret Krawcewicz 72 12-Oct
115 Catherine Gowing 37 12-Oct
116 Sabah Usmani (+5) 44 15-Oct
117 Pamela Glen 61 19-Oct
118 Karina Menzies 31 19-Oct
119 Jean Farrer 77 25-Oct
120 Christine Williamson 62 31-Oct
121 Charlotte Murray 37 31-Oct
122 Hilary Milner 55 01-Nov
123 Carol Cooper 66 02-Nov
124 Kim Campbell 41 08-Nov
125 Amelia Arnold 19 11-Nov
126 Khanokporn Satjawat 42 12-Nov
127 Reihana Rezayi 23 14-Nov
128 Shaista Khatoon 33 19-Nov
129 Paula Castle 85 19-Nov
130 Gaynor Bale 34 22-Nov
131 Rhoda Youson 57 24-Nov
132 Rebecca Sessecar 71 25-Nov
133 Paula Clinton 48 29-Nov
134 Georgina Hackett 25 01-Dec
135 Janee Parsons 32 01-Dec
136 Andrea Johnson 44 02-Dec
137 Christine  Haye-Levy 36 11-Dec
138 Rebecca Sessacar 25 20-Dec
139 Leslie Caile 48 24-Dec
140 Charmaine Macmuiris 37 25-Dec
141 Delores Smith 86 27-Dec
142 Judith Ann Brierley 67 28-Dec
143 Julia Thurgarland 70 28-Dec
144 Patricia Goodband 76 Dec

UK women killed through suspected male violence against women January – March 2013

22 UK women killed through suspected male violence against women January – March 2013.

22 women in 89 days, that’s one woman killed every 4.04 days.

Janelle Duncan Bailey 25 02-Jan
Akua Agyueman 23 03-Jan
Anastasia Voykina 23 07-Jan
Myrna Kirby 57 11-Jan
Suzanne Bavette Newton 45 13-Jan
Chloe Siokos 80 22-Jan
Debbie Levey 44 28-Jan
Sasha Marsden 16 31-Jan
Una Crown 86 31-Jan
Hayley Pointon 30 03-Feb
Pernella Forgie 79 07-Feb
Ganimete Hoti 42 11-Feb
Samantha Medland 24 17-Feb
Alexis Durant 42 20-Feb
Glynis Solmaz 65 20-Feb
Dimitrina Borisova 46 21-Feb
Victoria Rose 58 02-Mar
Chantelle Barnsdale-Quean 35 04-Mar
Susan Cole 54 06-Mar
Christina Edkins 16 06-Mar
Jennifer Rennie 26 11-Mar
Daneshia Arthur 30 18-Mar

Counting dead women

In the first three days of 2012, seven women in the UK were murdered by men, three were shot, two were strangled, one was stabbed and one killed through fifteen “blunt force trauma” injuries. Maybe I would have noticed this anyway; unusually some of the murders received a fair bit of press coverage, perhaps because the three women who were shot were family members killed in a multiple shooting. But mainly I noticed them because the woman who was stabbed comes from Hackney and that’s where the domestic and sexual violence charity that I work for is based. I wanted everyone to know her name and who she was, but professional boundaries meant I couldn’t say much at all. What I could do was name her as one of the number of women killed in the first few days of 2012. The thing is, once I’d started doing that, I didn’t want to stop.

I started keeping a list of the names of women killed through domestic violence. Many people know the ‘two women in England and Wales a week are killed through domestic violence‘ statistic, but how many try to connect with that, to feel the impact of what it really means? For some reason, I thought naming the women killed made the horror of what is happening to women feel more real. I began tweeting the names of the women, eventually settling in to a pattern of doing it at the end of every month. By the 26th February, I’d counted 15 UK women killed through domestic violence.

Then, on 9th March, Ahmad Otak stabbed Samantha Sykes, 18 and Kimberley Frank, 17, to death. Otak, 21, was the ex-boyfriend of Kimberley’s sister Elisa, 19. After killing Kimberley and then Samantha in front of Elisa, he abducted her and drove to Dover in a failed attempt to get to France. The murders of Samantha and Kimberly do not directly fit the definition of domestic violence, (though if you see them as actions of control and coercion in the context of Otak’s relationship with Elisa Frank, then arguably they do), but they are absolutely embedded in gender, in male violence against women. There was no way I was going to overlook these two young women, so at the end of March, I listed the names of women killed through suspected gender related murder. Women killed by men because they are women.

This has had an impact on me that I didn’t really expect. I don’t know when I started understanding domestic and sexual violence as different but related expressions of male violence against women; I’ve certainly been aware of their overlap through my work for as long as I can remember. But, the longer times goes on, the less patience I have with them being treated as separate issues1.

In the course of the year, almost every month when I tweeted the complete and growing list, I’d receive one or two enquiries (some polite and genuine, some – almost always men – who refused to accept that this is a gendered issue or tried to find some other way to demean what I was doing) about what I meant by ‘suspected gender related murders’. So, at the end of the year, with what I though would be the final list of names, I wrote a small piece about what I meant, what and more importantly who I’d included and who I hadn’t. See below2. As well as thinking about issues around gender3, I was worried about legality, for example at least one case had already gone to trial and the male perpetrator had been found not guilty of murder but of manslaughter, also about whether I could be accused of libel, so I always referred to suspected murder and have only ever used information easily accessible in the public domain.

By 31st December 2012, I’d counted and named 107 women. 107 women UK women killed in 365 days, that’s one woman every 3.4 days.

What I hadn’t really expected was that even though the year had ended, the list would continue to grow. The organisation I work for joined One Billion Rising on 14th February 2013. We released a balloon for every UK woman killed in 2012. By the time we were planning the event, 107 women had become 109. I’d found a woman I’d missed and details emerging through the trial of the murderer of another, made it clear that there was a gender related element to her killing. Yet, even by the actual event, the list had grown longer. Andrew Flood was a taxi-driver who strangled and robbed two elderly women, Margaret Biddolph, 78 and Annie Leyland, 88. When I learned he’d also robbed a third woman who according to reports had not been killed because she had not resisted when he robbed her, it seemed to me that there was a clear gendered pattern to his actions. We read the list of names on Parliament Square, we were talking about 109 women, but we read out 111 names, confident that no-one would be counting. Since then, another woman, Corrin Barker, 31 has been added to the list. Corrin’s death was originally reported as a double suicide alongside that of her father, in response to the death of her mother. But following a Freedom of Information request, documents show that police believe that Corrin’s father shot her, that it wasn’t a double suicide, but a murder-suicide. So now it’s not 107, it’s not 109, it’s 112 women killed through suspected gender related murder in 2012; one woman every 3.2 days.

Though planning the One Billion Rising event, I was talking to colleagues that I respect a lot, about the list. Once of the challenges they put to me was asking why I was talking about gender related murder, why not simply male violence against women? I think at first I was resistant, the problem isn’t biology, it’s society. It’s the social construct of gender, it’s inequality, the oppression of women in patriarchal society that is the issue. That’s still true, but it is no less true that what I am looking at is men killing women because they are women. Name the problem? The problem is male violence. Even in the cases where a woman or women were killed by men that do not involve domestic or sexual violence, it is still a man or men killing a woman or women, because they are women. The 2013 list therefore is of women killed though male violence against women. I think I’m going to drop the ‘suspected’ bit too.4

Male violence against women cuts across barriers of age, race, class, religion and geography. Although my list is of UK women, fatal male violence against women happens across the world. The commonalities are greater than any cultural variations. The youngest woman on the list from 2012 is Megan-Leigh Peat, she was 15, and the oldest is Annie Leyland who was 88. The list of the 112 names gives hints of differences in ethnicity, class and culture. I was surprised by how many women were killed by their sons, 13 of the 112 women and also one by her grandson.

It’s almost a year and three months now, since the murders of Susan McGoldrick, 47; Tanya Turnbull, 27; and Alison Turnbull, 44; who were shot by Michael Atherton, 42. Atherton legally owned six weapons, including three shotguns, he’d been granted a gun licence despite a history of domestic violence. A year and three months since 87 year old Kathleen Milward was killed through 15 blunt force trauma injuries inflicted by her grandson, and since Kirsty Treloar, a 20 year old new mother was stabbed 29 times by the father of her three-week-old baby. She was dragged out of the house by Miles Williams, leaving the baby covered in blood and her brother and sister also injured as they tried to protect her. A year and three months since Kirsty was shoved into the back of a car and driven away, to be later found dead two miles away, dumped behind wheelie bins.

I’ve been counting dead women for a year and three months; but not only counting, naming and trying to commemorate the UK women killed through male violence against women. Why? Because men are killing us and I want it to stop.

Footnotes

1 I acknowledge that legally and in terms of the support requirements of victims of domestic and/or sexual violence, there are often differences.
2 What do I mean by gender related murder? (2012)

1. They’re murders committed by a man or men against a woman or women
2. They include most domestic violence murders – but not all, the list does not include
• Patricia Seddon – who was shot along with her husband, Bob in July – their son and two other people were arrested
• Marie McCracken and Wendy Thorpe – who were both killed by women
3. I haven’t included Chrissie Azzopardi, 22, as I haven’t been able to find out whether the murder was primarily motivated by transphobia or misogyny.
4. I haven’t included Mary Saunders, 84 whose husband, aged 94 was arrested, as the police are pursuing a ‘mercy crime’ as one line of enquiry and the laws around euthanasia are overdue review.
5. I have included Khanokporn Satjawat who was visiting the UK, attending a conference, she was not a UK resident, but the brutality of her murder suggests that if it hadn’t been her that was killed, it could have been another woman.
6. I haven’t included Maria Ziemba, 89 whose husband also died, as police suspect their deaths could have been accidental.
7. I’ve included stranger crimes that wouldn’t count as domestic violence where there has been a sexual element to the attack.
8. I’ve included some where a jury has found that the legal definition of murder doesn’t apply. For example, I’ve included a case where a man admitted stabbing his wife but was cleared of murder and charged with manslaughter.
9. For lack of information/clarity aat the point of writing this, I haven’t included:
• Yong LI Qui, 42
• Edith Fuller,45
• Helen Pickering,37
• Tia Sharpe, 12 (not included due to age)
• Michelle Johnson,
• Sally Lawrence
• Aileen Dunne
• Mica Atkinson
• Jenny Methven, 80

If anyone has any information on the deaths of these women, please let me know. I recognise that there is a significant amount of subjectivity in the decision of who to include and who not to. Please let me know if you disagree. I’d like to hear from you.

3 I’m using gender, not as a substitute for sex, but as a social construct.
4 Any advice from legal bods would be appreciated.

Letter to the Attorney General regarding the unduly lenient sentencing of Paul Keene for the killing of Carmen Gabriela Miron-Buchacra

Dear Dominic Grieve, Attorney General

I am writing to complain about the sentencing of Paul Keene at Bristol Crown Court on 22nd March 2013, which I believe to be unduly lenient.

I understand that Mr Keene was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter,  with a reduced sentence reflecting admission of manslaughter and mitigating factors including loss of control and an alleged history of emotional abuse, for the killing of Carmen Gabriela Miron-Buchacra.

Firstly, I  would like to ask you to consider whether it was right that Mr Keene was found not guilty of murder.  Evidence in the form of an eight-minute voice-mail recording was heard by the court.  During the course of the recording, it has been accepted that Mr Keene killed Ms Miron-Buchacra, having been permitted entry into her flat after threatening to kick the door in. Mr Keene  can be heard threatening to kill Ms Miron-Buchacra, amidst sounds of choking, banging and screaming as he repeatedly punched her in the face and strangled her,  first with a dressing gown cord – and when that failed – an electrical cable.  I find it difficult to understand how this could be interpreted as anything other than a knowing intent to kill.

Accepting manslaughter as the offence, which for the reasons stated above, I do not; I question whether emotional abuse as a mitigating factor is appropriate.  Ms Miron-Buchacra was unable to present evidence to counter this because she was dead.  Similarly,  she was unable to present evidence that she had experienced emotional or any other form of abuse prior to her killing.  The court had, however, heard from Ms Miron-Buchacra’s aunt, who told the jury that her niece had confided to her that Mr Keene had been physically violent.

I wonder also whether aggravating factors were fully considered.  These include cruelty, threat to kill, use of a weapon (for surely exchanging a dressing gown cord for an electric cable makes that cable a weapon), the degree of harm caused and Mr Keene’s post-offence behaviour which  included sending texts from Ms Miron-Buchachra’s phone, pretending to be her.

For the reasons above, I urge you to refer this case to the Court of Appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Ingala Smith

 

Received a disappointing response on 22nd April:

Dear Ms Ingala-Smith

Thank you for your email asking the Attorney General to review the sentence imposed on Paul Keene.

 The Law Officers (the Attorney General and Solicitor General) can apply to the Court of Appeal for certain sentences to be increased on the grounds that they are “unduly lenient”.  The Solicitor General has considered carefully whether the sentence was unduly lenient in this very sad case and has decided not to refer it to the Court of Appeal as he does not consider the Court would increase it.

 It is important to note that the jury acquitted Paul Keene of murder and convicted him of manslaughter, by reason of loss of control. The judge could not disregard the jury’s verdict and he could only sentence Mr Keene for the offence of manslaughter by reason of loss of control, not for murder. The Law Officers are only able to consider the sentence, as was the judge, based on the verdict of manslaughter which the jury returned.

 The sentence of 7 years and 4 months is in accordance with the relevant sentencing guidelines and, in the Solicitor General’s view, was within the range of sentences it was open to the judge to impose for the offence of manslaughter.