Four people killed by partners or ex partners in last 10 years

Woman in fear of domestic abuse
Woman in fear of domestic abuse

Four people in the Coleraine borough area were killed by their partner, ex-partner or a family member, according to police records covering the last 10 years.

Details of the murder and manslaughter of both adults and children - recorded by the PSNI in the decade between 2005/06 and 2014/15 - have been released to Detail Data in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Detail Data is a joint project between investigative news website The Detail in Belfast and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.

The figures showed that during 2014/15, 1,150 domestic abuse incidents in Coleraine were reported to police as well as 450 domestic abuse crimes.

Of all the incidents recorded, 27% were sent on to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to be considered for prosecution.

Among the local crimes in that period were the murder of a woman over 60, the attempted murder of a woman in her 20s and six rapes.

Domestic abuse continues to take place on a daily basis with a total of 28,287 incidents reported to the police in Northern Ireland during the 2014/15 financial year. Many other incidents are likely to go unreported.

Against the backdrop of thousands of incidents of abuse occurring every year, an inter-ministerial group established at Stormont to address the issue of domestic violence hasn’t met in almost three years.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton told Detail Data that the new domestic abuse strategy has been endorsed by his department’s top management group but added that consideration is now being given to how the strategy’s aims may be progressed “in the exceptionally difficult financial environment we all face”.

There can be a time gap between the date of death and the date the circumstances are established as homicide – in rare cases this can be many years later.

We know two deaths recorded in the last decade occurred in 1991 and another woman was murdered in 2002.

Lesley Howell and Constable Trevor Buchanan died in May 1991 in Coleraine and their deaths were made to look like a suicide pact.

Their deaths were only recorded as murders when Lesley’s husband Colin Howell confessed to their deaths in 2009.

Both he and Trevor Buchanan’s wife Hazel Stewart were found guilty of their murders.

Detective Chief Inspector David McBurney, from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for the PSNI.

“The number of reports of domestic abuse continues to rise and this tells us that people who may not have previously come forward are taking the courageous step and calling the police.

“Unfortunately, there are still incidents of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland that go unreported.

“Our message is Domestic abuse is wrong, pick up the phone and make it stop’ and that is exactly what we want victims to do.”

The PSNI can be contacted on the non-emergency number 101 or in an emergency always call 999. The 24 hour Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence helpline number is 0808 802 1414.