Authorities have decided not to hold a review into the death of a woman who claimed her husband burned her with scalding oil following a row in their chip shop.
Mavis Bran, 69, died from multi-organ failure six days after suffering severe burns to 46% of her body in an incident inside the Chipoteria in Hermon, Carmarthenshire, in October 2018.
Before her death Mrs Bran alleged her husband, Geoffrey Bran, 72, had attacked her with a fryer, but he was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter following a week-long trial in November 2019.
The trial at Swansea Crown Court heard that Mrs Bran told a friend weeks before her death about her husband: “I am frightened. I think he is going to f****** kill me’.”
On Tuesday, a multi-agency group including Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda Health Board and Dyfed-Powys Police said it will not hold a domestic homicide review (DHR) into the circumstances leading up to her death.
DHRs can be launched following an allegation of a domestic homicide to review whether anything about the circumstances of the death can help prevent future incidents involving others and improve service responses for victims.
It is not necessary for someone to be convicted of a homicide for a DHR to take place.
Councillor Ann Davies, chair of Carmarthenshire Safer Communities Partnership, said: “The circumstances around this case have been reconsidered and fully discussed by members of the Safer Communities Partnership.
“As chair of the partnership, I have reviewed these discussions and decision made previously and have decided that a domestic homicide review will not be undertaken in this case.
“This decision is based on considerations as to whether lessons could be learned or service responses improved within and between agencies, and has been discussed with Mrs Bran’s family.”
Ms Davies said she has instead requested that a “task and finish group” consider and respond to “several key themes where there may be some opportunities for us to improve and strengthen practice across the region”.
It is the second time the group has decided not to launch a DHR, after it said in March it was “revisiting” its original decision not to hold a review.
It was reconsidered after anti-domestic abuse campaigners Rachel Williams and Janine Roderick, both from the SafeLives charity, expressed their “deep concern” in a letter that a review had not been conducted.
An email sent to Ms Roderick earlier this month said the decision was being upheld despite the group noting “that the criteria for triggering a DHR had been met”.
Ms Williams told the PA news agency: “I’m really disappointed. The DHR is not to apportion blame. It’s to give that victim a voice, and I really believe Mavis’ voice is not being heard and this is a missed opportunity to learn lessons from her case.”
Frank Mullane, chief executive of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and who campaigned to ensure DHRs became law in 2011, described the latest decision as “puzzling”.
He told PA: “My understanding is that the commissioning body feels there are no lessons to be learned. I cannot understand how one can reach such a conclusion without having taken a thorough look and that means a thorough look in the community too.”
Mr Mullane added: “DHRs are not about culpability. They are about learning. Potential victims of domestic abuse may benefit if the agencies charged with safeguarding have the imagination and curiosity to take a much closer look via a DHR.”
Earlier this year, Home Secretary Priti Patel ordered Torfaen Council’s Public Service Board to U-turn on its decision not to hold a DHR in the case of Ruth Williams, who was strangled to death by her husband at their home in Cwmbran in March 2020.
At Mr Bran’s trial, the court heard that on October 23 2018 his wife rang friend Caroline Morgan and told her: “Geoff has thrown boiling oil over me. Please get here, I need you now, help.”
Miss Morgan said she found her a short time later “shocked” and “shaking”, and was told by Mrs Bran: “I was nagging him and he flipped.”
The court also heard that people who knew the couple described them as having “short tempers” and said they “always argued”.
While being treated for her injuries, Mrs Bran had a blood alcohol reading of 108mg/dl, higher than the drink-drive limit of 80mg/dl, with her husband saying she was “halfway” to being drunk on red wine.
Mr Bran said his wife was “confused” when blaming him, but said he “couldn’t find an answer” for why he failed to call an ambulance after she ran to their home injured while he continued to serve customers.
He said he believed his wife pulled the deep fat fryer on top of herself by grabbing a frying basket attached to it after she slipped.
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