Harrowing story of Yorkshire woman who took her own life after suffering domestic abuse
A domestic homicide report into the death of a woman named as Leah in summer 2020 by Sheffield Drug and Alcohol/Domestic Abuse Coordination Team (DACT) was included in the latest review of the Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership.
The city’s three safeguarding partners are Sheffield City Council, NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board and South Yorkshire Police. The overall review will be discussed at a meeting of Sheffield City Council’s education, children and families policy committee next Thursday.
The report said that Leah died by suicide from an overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs. Her partner, named as AP, had breached a domestic abuse violence protection order and was present leading up to her death.
The report said that AP was her on-off partner for two years and was not the father of her children. Leah had suffered abuse as a young person and had previously attempted suicide and had an alcohol problem.
AP was a child victim of domestic abuse and “struggled with alcohol, drug use and poor mental health”. He was supervised by the probation service.
The report said: “Leah and AP’s relationship was violent and volatile from the start. AP was coercive and controlling, using physical, psychological, sexual and emotional abuse. Incidents often included alcohol. The children were sometimes present. There were 12 police investigations as the abuse escalated.
“He threatened suicide, breached orders and caused damage to Leah’s mum’s property. He attacked Leah at an airport and was found guilty of battery."
A MARAC referral is a meeting of different agencies to discuss how to help victims at high risk of murder or serious harm.
The report added: “Six weeks before her death, Leah retaliated in self-defence and was heard at MARAC as a perpetrator. Children’s social care started an assessment and a week before her death she told the police she feared for her life.”
The review found that agencies “failed to identify and address the risk of suicide as a possible outcome of the domestic abuse she was experiencing – it was thought her children were a protective factor”.
The review concluded: “As in previous Sheffield reviews, where there are substance misuse issues and poor mental health it is important to ask about domestic abuse.”
The review recommended:
Using a trauma-informed approach with complex cases of domestic abuse.
A specialist risk assessment should be made of all victims, consider their children and refer to social care.
Agencies should consider if it is self-defence or violent resistance when women apparently perpetrate domestic abuse.
Agencies should report and act on breaches of orders such as domestic violence protection orders.
The spellings of all names should be checked to ensure records are not overlooked.