Family of domestic abuse victim mark 10th anniversary of her murder with fundraiser

North Yorkshire mother-of-one Rebecca Kowal was killed 10 years ago
North Yorkshire mother-of-one Rebecca Kowal was killed 10 years ago

THE family of a Yorkshire woman murdered by a violent boyfriend will today mark the 10th anniversary of her death by staging a fundraiser for a domestic abuse charity.

Mother-of-one Rebecca Kowal, 29, of West Tanfield, North Yorkshire, was killed by drunken 47-year-old Robert Byrom in May 2008. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Miss Kowal’s half-brother, Andrew Overton, told The Yorkshire Post of the grief the family still felt, a decade after the “awful day” of her death.

He said: “It is raw and the emotions are highest in the early years. People would say, ‘It will get better in time’, but it’s not a question of it getting better, really, it is just a question of getting used to it.

“It can bring a family together, definitely. Equally, it can divide a community. You have got people who are friends with the assailant, the perpetrator, and they might not see it as the family sees it, so divisions can be created in communities in that regard.”

Mr Overton, 57, a police officer from Northallerton, said his half-sister had been a talented amateur chef and guitar player.

He said: “She was confident, she was vibrant, she was just a lovely girl.”

He said Miss Kowal’s daughter, Sophie, who was just seven at the time of her mother’s death, was now 17 and was “doing remarkably well”.

He said: “She is very much like her mother in a lot of respects, in the way she walks and the way she speaks.”

Members of Miss Kowal’s family will today lead a seven-mile sponsored walk in her memory, called Becca’s Walk. They will also be staging a family fun day at the village hall in West Tanfield from 1pm.

Mr Overton said the fundraiser would serve three purposes: to raise money for charity, to highlight the issue of domestic abuse and to “keep Becca’s memory alive”.

He said: “For us to do something like this for her, she would be smiling down on us. She would be overwhelmed by it all.”

He said the family had held fundraising events every year and had raised thousands of pounds in the process.

Proceeds from today’s event will be donated to York-based domestic abuse charity IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Service), a charity Mr Overton is now an ambassador for. He said everyone could play their part in the fight against abuse by looking out for friends, family members and colleagues.

Police forces are routinely called to reports of domestic abuse, with West Yorkshire Police called to deal with six incidents every hour.

North Yorkshire Police recorded nearly 10,000 domestic violence incidents or crimes in 2016/17.

South Yorkshire Police recorded more than 33,000 incidents or crimes, while Humberside Police logged more than 22,000.