The family of a woman who was beaten severely by her partner on the night she died are calling for an inquest into her death to resume after the perpetrator was not charged with murder.
Ahead of the sentencing of Duane Ballin for causing grievous bodily harm with intent, Tara Newbold’s family have urged Nottinghamshire coroners service to examine the circumstances surrounding her death. The coroner can decide to resume an inquest once criminal proceedings have concluded.
Newbold, 29, was beaten from head to toe by Ballin, who turned himself in to police saying: “I think I’ve killed my girlfriend.”
But after toxicology reports revealed she had cocaine in her system, police officers dropped a murder inquiry and charged Ballin with the less serious offence, for which he was convicted in February and will be sentenced at Nottingham crown court on Monday.
Julie and Peter Dury, Newbold’s mother and stepfather, have written to the coroner’s office to set out their case in support of a full inquest being resumed.
Speaking to the Guardian, Peter Dury said: “We do not feel that the criminal justice system has uncovered the truth behind Tara’s death and we hope a full inquest could go some way towards achieving that.
“The postmortem itself was inadequate as it does not say how cocaine caused her death.
“And the criminal investigation has not investigated the circumstances of her death even though the drugs were supposed to have been taken at the same time as she was being beaten.
“Tara was not a drug user, completely the opposite, and the presence of drugs in her system and the assault cannot be separated even though the police would like to do that.”
A postmortem found Newbold had 37 injuries, including broken ribs and a punctured lung. However, it concluded that the most likely cause of death was cocaine toxicity.
The Durys commissioned another pathologist to review the findings, who concluded Newbold’s injuries should not have been excluded from having played a part in her death.
The family pressed prosecutors and Nottinghamshire police to pursue a murder charge and have criticised authorities for failing to protect their daughter after it emerged Ballin had abused her for years.
Women’s rights groups and campaigners described the case as “heartbreaking”.
Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality party, said: “That Tara Newbold was so abandoned is heartbreaking; that neither the police nor the CPS confronted the failures of the investigation is shameful. Their ignorance is fatal for other women in abusive relationships.
“This terrifying story demonstrates how little our criminal and judicial institutions understand violence against women – the cause and consequence of women’s inequality – and how subsequent governments have serially failed to make the deep-rooted structural changes required to halt this epidemic.”
Karen Ingala Smith, the chief executive of Nia, a charity for victims of domestic abuse, started the Counting Dead Women project in January 2012, recording the names of women killed by men in the UK, and has recorded the names of 860 women.
“If I could add the names where men’s violence was a contributory factor to their death or declining health, let alone if I could add the names of the women who kill themselves because they cannot bear it any more, the figure would be so much higher,” she said.
“When I think of the countless women still living in these circumstances and the shoddy responses that they so often receive from the services that are supposed to help them during their lives, let alone those responsible for ensuring something like justice after their deaths, it’s almost unbearable. The scale of abuse and suffering is massive and as a society, we are failing them.”
Suzanne Jacob, the chief executive of SafeLives, a domestic abuse charity, said: “We have to do better for women like Tara Newbold.
“Tara told the police what was happening, her family and friends tried to help many times and we knew Duane Ballin was violent towards previous partners. And yet we still failed to keep Tara safe.
“She was not hidden, she was in plain sight, and yet we failed to respond properly despite the very obvious and immediate risk to her safety.
“We need to provide specialist support the first time someone reaches out, every time. It takes a lot of bravery to tell someone what is happening, and Tara did just that, and yet seemingly she was not provided with the effective, specialist response that could have made her safe.”
The Crown Prosecution Service previously said it considered all of the evidence provided by the police and made a charging decision in accordance with the evidential test contained in the code for crown prosecutors.
Nottinghamshire police said the pathology report was “subject to peer review. It is inappropriate for us to comment further on this”.