Ex-partner of 'terrified abuse victim' Jessie Laverack attends inquest into her sudden death – Hull Live

Jessie Laverack took her own life after her ex Patrick Walsh got back in touch
The former partner of a woman who moved 60 miles to escape a “violent and abusive relationship”, before taking her own life some months after he got back in touch, has attended the inquest into her death.
Jessica Laverack, known as Jessie, moved to East Yorkshire from Rotherham in 2017 in order to escape her ex-boyfriend Patrick Walsh, the inquest has heard. However, Mr Walsh, who described Jessie as his fiancé, found out where Jessie lived and sent her a letter, before turning up at her home unannounced.
Jessie, 34, was tragically found dead in Beverley on February 2, 2018, after taking her own life. An inquest into her death resumed on Thursday in Hull.
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Mr Walsh, who denies having abused Jessica, has been granted "interested persons" status at the inquest, which means he is able to question any witnesses who give evidence. He sat just metres behind Jessica’s family, and security was present during breaks in proceedings.
The inquest heard on Wednesday how Jessie moved to Beverley in the summer of 2017 to escape Mr Walsh, who allegedly abused her and on one occasion is said to have grabbed her by the throat, which he denies. Her death was subject to a domestic homicide review – the first of such a case in the East Riding. These are held in cases where a death "has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a person to whom they were related or with whom they were, or had been, in an intimate personal relationship, or a member of the same household as themselves".
The inquest heard Jessie was classed as "high risk" at an East Riding Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) on September 5, 2017 shortly after she moved to Beverley.
In the same month, Mr Walsh is said to have found out where Jessie had moved to. The inquest heard he sent a letter to Jessie, before turning up outside. He is alleged to have tried to see and take Jessie's pet dog, who she adored.
An East Riding Domestic Violence and Abuse Partnership (DVAP) worker noted in the course of her interactions with Jessie that she reported being "petrified" and scared of leaving her home after Mr Walsh had found out where she lived.
On Thursday, the inquest heard from Emma Heatley, a former detective chief inspector at Humberside Police who was in the safeguarding unit but has since retired. She reviewed the Humberside force’s role in Jessica’s tragic case.
After it was discovered Jessie’s Beverley address has been disclosed to Mr Walsh, police went to visit her on September 27. The inquest heard the officers were aware Mr Walsh knew of her address but there didn’t seem to be much discussion about it. Ms Heatley admitted this should have been explored more with Jessie.
The inquest also heard the officers were inexperienced and did not appreciate the gravity of the situation. There was no consideration of the reported harassment and escalating situation.
Ms Heatley told the inquest Humberside Police has set up a vulnerability hub to deal largely with children vulnerable to abuse but also adults. The hub consists of dedicated officers who can refer the cases to social care services and meet regularly with other agencies to provide a holistic approach to cases.
In relation to whether the actions of Mr Walsh amounted to harassment, Ms Heatley said: “It should certainly be considered and investigated but I’m not in a position to question the judgment of the police officer who decided it did not amount to harassment.”
Crucially, there have been changes to the law which means the threshold for what constitutes harassment and stalking has been lowered
Ms Heatley said: “There is a lot more training now around harassment and stalking and how officers deal with it. Sending her messages and visiting her address would now be classed as stalking and would be investigated but it would only have been seen as possible harassment back then.”
The family lawyer questioned whether Jessie was treated more dismissively due to her alcohol problems and having worked in the sex trade which "undermined her in the eyes of the police".
But Ms Heatley said: “There was no disrespect to Jessica and just because she was a sex worker did not minimise the risk. If you are a victim, you are a victim and we treat everyone the same.”
Ms Heatley also told the inquest there is now more training around domestic abuse, both around dealing with victims and investigating cases.
The inquest also heard from Lyndsey McClements who is director of operations at Hull and East Yorkshire Mind. Assistant coroner Lorraine Harris questioned Ms McClements over the charity’s involvement in Jessie’s care.
She was referred to HEY Mind on September 27 but she was not seen until three weeks later. Jessie told her care worker at Mind at a meeting that her ex-partner had been round that morning but that information was not passed on.
During a meeting with her worker at Mind on January 4, 2018, Jessie said she "did not feel great". Mrs Harris questioned whether this should have been explored further and escalated to a safe-guarding team.
But she expressed even greater concern when Jessica contacted her worker on January 9, 2018. She asked her worker if they could talk and said she was "so lost right now". The worker said she could not speak as she was in a meeting but would call later that day.
Mrs Harris asked Ms McClements what meeting would be more important than speaking to someone with Jessie’s mindset and she could not answer that. Mrs Harris also expressed concern there was no contact again until January 17. She said: "That’s a bit worrying."
The inquest heard that Jessica found the sessions with Mind useful but the charity was limited in what it could provide, such as being unable to prescribe medication. Jessica’s mum went to the meeting on January 17 and expressed concerns about her daughter’s anxiety and whether enough was being done.
Ms McClements said: “I’m not sure from the notes I’ve seen what was done to explore the concerns further. We would have contacted the NHS to see what other medication she could be prescribed and we would have provided hints and tips on ways to cope.”
Ms McClements also admitted they had not been told about Jessica’s mental health past which was more acute than they realised. She said: “If we had known about her mental health history then that would certainly have been helpful and we could have provided more intensive treatment.
In an appointment with her DVAP caseworker a week prior to her death, Jessie indicated excitement for the future, including plans to work with Guide Dogs for The Blind. She was also in the process of enrolling into rehab to tackle an addiction to alcohol.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, help is available.
For information on all support available in East Riding for victims of domestic abuse and violence, click here.
Phone East Riding Dap on 01482 396330.
East Riding's DVAP Operational Team can be contacted on 01482 396368.
East Riding DVAP also have an online chat service, which runs from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday, and is available here.
See Hull Dap, the domestic abuse partnership, at www.hulldap.co.uk
Phone Hull Dap on 01482 318 759
Text Hull Dap on 01482 300 349
Email Hull Dap on Hull.Dap@hullcc.gov.uk
A fundraiser tribute in aid of Mind was organised by her sister after her death and raised more than £1,700. She described Jessie on the fundraiser page as "fun, loving and adventurous" and said: "Tragically on the 2nd February 2018 I lost her so suddenly and unexpectedly, she was only 34. My life and families lives changed forever that day and we’re completely heartbroken. I don’t think I could ever describe the sadness and pain we feel as a family every second of the day!"
The inquest into Jessie's death continues.
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