'˜Other women need to be warned off violent men'

A heartbroken teacher has welcomed new rules that allow women to be warned about their partner's violent backgrounds.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 24th January 2018, 7:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th January 2018, 8:55 am

The mum-of-three was speaking out after her violent ex husband appeared before the courts.

Stephen Clayton, 46, now of Back Lane, Newburgh. near Wigan, appeared before Preston Magistrates’ Court where he was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £620 prosecution costs and a £20 surcharge.

His former partner, who is too afraid to be named, wants to warn other women about him.

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Clares Law, named after Clare Wood, (pictured), give women the right to know if their partner has previous convictions for domestic violence

She was speaking as new figures show that Lancashire Police has one of the highest number in the country of disclosures made under Clare’s Law.

This new laws means that women can ask police if a new partner has any history of domestic violence, and in some cases police can disclose information to women who may be at risk.

The scheme is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood who was set on fire and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009.

Today the 41-year-old victim spoke of her husband’s bizarre jealousy towards their cat and her children.

Clares Law, named after Clare Wood, (pictured), give women the right to know if their partner has previous convictions for domestic violence

She said: “ Initially Stephen was charming and put me on a pedestal, showering me with affection and actually referring to me as princess – but the fairy tale soon ended.

“Stephen was abusive and threatening, so much so that my youngest daughter moved out of the home to reside with her father. Over a seven and half year period, he become manipulative, controlling and possessive, slowly preventing me from doing things and isolating me from family and friends.”

On August 18 Stephen burned her computer tower, which had precious photos of her children on it, in a rage,

She added: “He was always jealous of any love and affection I gave my children and would become moody and make me feel guilty for being a loving parent.

“During the argument, he threatened to burn the house down.”

On August 31 he assaulted her in their bedroom.

She recalls: “The main argument leading up to the assault was because I bought my son a £300 watch for his 18th birthday – from my money from my own personal account. I work full time and had been saving for this milestone event, and also paid the mortgage and utility bills.

“In the same year he had given his own son £300 for his 21 st, but he said that I was extravagant and trying to buy my son’s affection.

“He used to kick and punch the cat – he wouldn’t let it in the house and was jealous of the cat getting any attention, to such a degree that I had to have her rehomed.

“We all became mute, scared to speak or express a view in our own home.

“He would often refer to vivid dreams and explain how he, in James Bond Style, would violently attack anyone who spoke to me - on reflection this was as a warning, and meant to control and intimidate me. He would boast that he’d break their legs and my neck if I so much as looked at anyone else.

“On one occasion he punched through the thickened special glass in the oven door in a rage.”

He turned his violence on her after demanding she give him her mobile phone.

She says: “I refused and placed it in the front of my jeans to avoid him taking it.

“During the assault Stephen pinned me violently to the bed - he straddled me, pinning me to the bed with his knees and fists, punched me in the head and proceeded to try to remove my phone, ripping my underwear in the process.

“He is more than 16 stone - I am under nine stone.

“ Once he had succeeded in taking my phone and released his grip, I fled the house, petrified, and went straight to the police station.

“After the attack I had to wear long sleeved tops and trousers to hide the marks and bruising from his attack.

The mum wants to change preconceptions about domestic abuse.

She said: “It doesn’t just happen to people from deprived backgrounds. I have a career and live in a four bedroomed house. It can happen to anyone.

“Stephen was so threatening and hell bent on ruining my life, he told me he’d spread malicious rumours about me and get them in the papers.

“ He has left me anxious and scared. I am now having counselling to try and rebuild my confidence. It has left me feeling vulnerable and suffering panic attacks.”

“I want to warn others of his behaviour and hopefully encourage other women in my position to speak out, get help and see that the truth always wins and justice will prevail.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the love, kindness and support or friends - people who I least expected have been been there and have given me an inner strength and courage with their comfort.”

Anyone who needs assistance or advice about domestic abuse can call Safenet on 07866 510 728, or Preston’s 24 hour staffed domestic violence helpline - 01772 201601.

Clare’s Law

Clare’s Law gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them.

Under Clare’s Law, a member of the public can also make enquiries into the partner of a close friend or family member.

The case came as Lancashire Police reveal they have received 359 Right to Ask applications - requests triggered by a member of the public applying to the police for a disclosure.

It marked the most applications to the police forces that responded to a Freedom of Information request.

Lancashire Police made 140 disclosures, among the highest in the country, to applicants.

The same period the force received 353 Right to Know applications by agencies, where a proactive decision is made to consider disclosing the information in order to protect a potential victim. It was the third hgihest number in the country.

To these requests Lancashire Police made 223 disclosures.

The figures mean that 24.2 Right to Ask applications are made in Lancashire per 100,000 people - and 23.8 are made under the Right to Know scheme