Q: How many times must a woman ask British police to stop her husband attacking her, before British police do something?
A: She can ask them 25 times, and they still won’t help. Neither will the Crown Prosecution Service.
And now a domestic violence charity is hoping to highlight this. Specifically, by using human rights legislation to sue Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, after a young mother was murdered by her violent husband.
Malik Mannan, 36, stabbed his wife Sabina Akhtar, 26, to death at their home in Longsight.
A jury later found him guilty of murder and jailed him for a minimum of 17 years.
But it then emerged that poor Sabina had contacted police on no less than 25 occasions. In fact, she even predicted her husband would kill her.
Sabina told them: “I genuinely believe that if he gets the opportunity, he will not hesitate to kill me. I will support any police prosecution in this case and I am happy to give evidence in court if necessary.”
Yet prosecutors decided not to press charges, leaving him free to murder.
Now the charity Refuge says it will argue that GMP and the CPS failed to protect Sabina.
Human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy QC said the legal action could become a landmark test case and Sabina’s family have said they would back the action ‘100 per cent’.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Under human rights legislation, the authorities have a duty to protect persons and we believed in this case the police and CPS failed spectacularly and if they had handled it better she might still be alive today. I believe the only way to change policy and practice is to hit them where it hurts – in their wallets.”
Sabina’s family believe she would still be alive today if police and prosecutors had listened to her cries for help.
Sabina reported Mannan’s attacks and death threats months before her murder in September last year.
Mannan was arrested for threatening to kill her but bailed last July with a warning not to contact her. He ignored the order and was arrested trying to get into her house.
The case was reviewed by a CPS lawyer who decided there was no case to answer despite the previous complaints. Bail restrictions on Mannan were dropped and he sent Sabina a text boasting: “I am a free man. Case file closed. Isn’t it great?”
Four days later he stabbed her to death with a kitchen knife.
This is not an isolated case. I’m sure many of us recall reading about other women who end up being murdered by men they have repeatedly reported for harassment and assault. Let’s hope this legal action goes ahead – watch this space.