By Grahame Anderson
Following years of physical and verbal abuse at the hands of her husband, 34-year-old Jessica Patel was suffocated by him at her Middlesbrough home in May 2018.
At one point she had gone to her GP – to complain of anxiety and the fact she was under pressure not being able to conceive. Jessica was receiving fertility treatment, but unbeknown to her Patel was taking drugs to stifle his sperm count.
In light of the murder carried out by Mitesh it quickly emerged he was a serial domestic abuser and a bully having also taken out several life insurance policies on his wife, in her name, as he plotted to kill her. His aim was to begin a new life with a gay lover in Australia using £2m from insurance payouts. Mr Patel of The Avenue in the Linthorpe area of the town was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 30 years. The couple had been married for nine years.
Patel presented himself as well-educated man who was a successful pharmacist and businessman, according to a domestic homicide review. Sadly, this impression was just a cover for the cruel manipulator underneath, moving his wife to Middlesbrough from the Halifax area in order to leave her isolated from her family.
Middlesbrough Community Safety Partnership launched the review into the murder with help from Jessica’s family. The panel cited the murder should be considered an honour killing as the only way Mitesh Patel may have felt able to leave the marriage with honour was by killing his wife.
They found evidence from colleagues who worked alongside the couple at the pharmacy they ran in Roman Road, the murderer was a bully and treated Jessica in an appalling and humiliating way in front of them and customers, even throwing objects.
To make matters worse, information emerged on how he had limited how much Jessica could see her dying grandfather. He’d also physically attacked her on at least three occasions. There was no evidence she was asked whether she was experiencing domestic abuse.
In a statement, Mrs Patel’s family said they supported the “extremely painful” review to “provide a voice for her.
“So that this act of evil is not repeated, we encourage everyone to open their eyes, to ask questions and never assume everything is OK.”
Given all of this, an independent report has set out a number of recommendations for use by public bodies in response to Jessica’s murder. The probe called for better staff training in order to recognise the signs of honour-based violence and a greater insight into flagging up signs of domestic abuse within “family owned” firms. Such a report has the goal of learning lessons from someone’s death – in this case also including better support for those in diverse communities.
The Recommendations Advise:
Reviewing the effectiveness of information provided to family, friends, work colleagues and diverse communities about recognising the signs of domestic abuse and where they can go, if necessary anonymously, with such information.
Health agencies should ensure professionals are trained in recognising abuse, being alert to indicators and understanding the links between mental health and domestic abuse. Agencies must also review policies and training in relation to domestic abuse and recognise the barriers victims of domestic abuse may face.
Agencies must review policies and training to recognise and respond to so-called “honour-based” violence.
NHS England to consider issuing guidance to GP practices to ensure patient care is not impacted upon by other pre-existing relationships.
The Home Office to help develop best practice for small family-owned and run businesses with guidance on how to deal with disclosures, suspicions or indicators of domestic abuse.