Domestic violence is in the news on an almost-daily basis. Crime correspondent Neil Hunter looks at two cases and asks an experienced detective what can be done to curb the problem.
A MAN who stabbed his estranged partner to death with a foot-long kitchen knife was last night starting a life sentence after being branded a danger to women.
Graham Gibson was told he will be freed from prison only when experts from the Parole Board consider he is no longer a significant risk – which might be never.
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Teesside Crown Court heard how the gambling addict's victim Christine Henderson, 50, left him after he repeatedly stole her money and became violent towards her.
Months before the killing, the 47-year-old attacked mother-of-three Mrs Henderson and also assaulted one of her daughters when she intervened in the domestic dispute.
Mrs Henderson left their home in Hartlepool in late-June and went to stay with a friend in Middlesbrough, but was hounded by Gibson in the days that followed.
They met after he bombarded her with phone calls, texts and Facebook messages – but within minutes Mrs Henderson was knifed 11 times in the head, neck and chest.
Gibson was cleared of murder by a jury after he claimed he lost control and lashed out during “sixty seconds of madness” when he was taunted by his ex-lover.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told Gibson – who admitted manslaughter – that he had lied during his three-week trial about the kind of person Mrs Henderson was.
He said: "She would have enjoyed her 51st birthday on Tuesday of this week, that she did not do so was entirely due to your actions . . . you deprived her of her life.
“She was a loving person, a bubbly person but you described her as evil and horrible in drink. No-one else who gave evidence took the same view, none agreed with that description and neither do I.
"You were in a relationship between October 2010 and June 2012. It was happy in the beginning but soon problems began to emerge as a result of your behaviour.
"In the later part of June, she had had enough of your conduct and she left you because you stole her money repeatedly. She didn't have a lot but what little she had you took.
"You had been violent towards her on a number of occasions prior to July and sought to dominant her. You made her life a misery and you would not accept the fact that she had left you. You were sure she would bend to your will and return."
The judge added: " I find the provocation from Mrs Henderson was very low and over a very short period of time."
He said that after killing Christine, Gibson's thoughts had turned to taking money from her bag.
He said: "That is a very substantial aggravating feature. It shows the loss of control was short-lived and your immediate thoughts after killing her was not for her but for your own selfishness.
“I have to consider whether you pose a significant risk of committing serious offences of violence in the future, and whether he poses a serious risk to members of the public, including women who may contemplate a relationship with him.
“I have concluded that you pose such a danger."
He told Gibson: "I stress that is a minimum term you will not released after that time if in the opinion of the Parole Board it is not safe for you to be released."
Mrs Henderson was left to die in her friend's home while Gibson rifled through her bag for cash and waited 45 minutes before dialling 999.
In that time, he was seen by two witnesses – captured on CCTV – “acting normal and joking as if nothing had happened”.
In the phone call to police, the killer refused to give his full name, but said: “I've stabbed my girlfriend and she's dead.”
He also washed his hands, changed his clothes and dumped his mobile phone in a drain, the court was told.