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Patel orders review into lockdown killing of woman by her husband

Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered Torfaen council to carry out a domestic homicide review.

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Ruth Williams was strangled to death in Cwmbran, south Wales, on March 28 last year (Gwent Police/PA)

Ruth Williams was strangled to death in Cwmbran, south Wales, on March 28 last year (Gwent Police/PA)

Ruth Williams was strangled to death in Cwmbran, south Wales, on March 28 last year (Gwent Police/PA)

The Home Secretary has ordered a review into the “appalling case” of a woman who was killed by her husband during the UK’s first lockdown.

Priti Patel was “not satisfied” with Torfaen council’s decision not to carry out a domestic homicide review (DHR) into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ruth Williams, according to safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins.

The 67-year-old was strangled to death by Anthony Williams, 70, at their home in Cwmbran, South Wales, on March 28 last year.

He was sentenced to five years in prison.

He was cleared of murder, having already pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

This was an appalling case and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ruth WilliamsSafeguarding minister Victoria Atkins

The trial judge said that Williams’ mental state was “severely affected” by depression and anxiety and there was no evidence of any previous domestic violence.

Ms Atkins said: “This was an appalling case and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ruth Williams.

“Having personally reviewed this case, the Home Secretary is not satisfied with the conclusions reached by Torfaen County Borough Council Public Service Board that there are no lessons to be learned from this tragic death.

“That is why she has written to the board to instruct it to establish a domestic homicide review.”

Ms Patel has used her powers under section 9(3) of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 to order the review.

A growing outcry has seen campaigners claim the sentence is too lenient, along with mounting pressure for a DHR.

Labour MP Harriet Harman told the PA news agency that she had written to Ms Patel calling for a review and she is “glad she has agreed” to it.

Ms Harman, who also wrote to the council at the end of February, added that the review “just needs to go ahead asap”.

In her council letter, which was copied to the local authority’s chair of the Public Service Board, Ms Harman wrote: “As you may know I initiated the system of Domestic Homicide Reviews, of which the first was held in 2001, so that lessons can be learned by the agencies and services.

“The question is not just whether the agencies and services who had been involved had done everything they could to prevent the homicide but also whether there were agencies who weren’t involved who should have been.

“Given the level of public concern that there has been about this tragic homicide, I’d be grateful if you would reconsider your decision and decide instead to hold a review.”

PA


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