Man accused of being abusive shares last conversation with partner day before she died

A man accused of being abusive has revealed his last conversation with his ex-partner claiming they were “very much in love” when she was found dead the next day.

An inquest into the death of Jessica Laverack, known as Jessie, heard how she had moved to East Yorkshire from Rotherham in 2017 to escape her ex-boyfriend Patrick Walsh.

But Mr Walsh, who described Jessie as his fiancé, is said to have found out where she lived and sent her a letter before turning up at her home unannounced, Hull Live reports.

Jessie, 34, was found dead at her home in Beverley on February 2, 2018, with a handwritten note which read “I’m sober and will stay that way. I also know I’m scared of you and that’s so hard to say out loud and tell you that.”

The inquest at Hull Coroners Court heard how police had charged Mr Walsh with assaulting Jessie, but the case was dropped at court when she withdrew the claim.

Mr Walsh who denies abusing her, has been granted “interested persons” status at Jessie’s inquest, meaning he can question witnesses who give evidence.

He told the coroner Jessie was his fiancé and they “very much loved each other” when she died.

He said: “We were talking about moving away from everyone, starting afresh.”

He told the inquest his last conversation with Jessie was on February 1, 2018 and that she “seemed quite cheerful” and was looking forward to the weekend and seeing Mr Walsh and his son.

The inquest heard how Jessie moved to Beverley in the summer of 2017 to escape Mr Walsh, who allegedly abused her and on one occasion is said to have grabbed her by the throat.

He denies both offences.

Jessie’s death was subject to a domestic homicide review – the first of such a case in the East Riding.

These are held in cases where a death “has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a person to whom they were related or with whom they were, or had been, in an intimate personal relationship, or a member of the same household as themselves”.

Jessie had been determined as “high risk” at an East Riding Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) on September 5, 2017 shortly after she moved to Beverley.

In the same month, the police became aware that Mr Walsh had found out where Jessie had moved to but the inquest heard how the inexperienced officers did not appreciate the gravity of the situation.

The inquest heard claims that Mr Walsh sent a letter to Jessie, before turning up outside her home and allegedly tried to take Jessie’s pet dog, who she adored.

A domestic violence worker noted that Jessie told her she was “petrified” and scared of leaving her home after Mr Walsh had found out where she lived.

Jessie was also in touch with mental health and alcohol addiction support services, as well as domestic violence support.

Mr Walsh told the inquest that the pair got together in summer 2014 but claimed that Jessie would “come up” with “stuff that wasn’t true” when intoxicated.

He confirmed that police had investigated allegations of domestic abuse in relation to him and their relationship, but he had never been convicted.

He confirmed that the pair had split up in July, but added she had got in touch in late August and gave him her new address.

He claimed they resumed a relationship in September, but acknowledged her step-father only became aware in the New Year and said: “We both very much loved each other.”

In response, Assistant Coroner Lorraine Harris asked how the claim they loved each other fitted with evidence heard of reports made by Jessie to multiple agencies of fears that he would kill her.

Mr Walsh replied: “What a lot of people don’t know, when she was highly intoxicated she’d come up with a lot of stuff that wasn’t true.”

Ms Harris queried that she was not always intoxicated when talking to people from the agencies offering her support.

“I would not know, ma’am,” responded Mr Walsh.

The coroner asked him: “Did you appreciate that the idea of taking the dog away from Jessie would cause increased anxiety?”

Mr Walsh replied: “I won’t answer that, ma’am.”

He confirmed he had contacted Jessie’s mum about retrieving some property and the dog, Achilles, after Jessie had moved to Beverley, and said he had concerns for the dog’s wellbeing.

Mr Walsh was quizzed about whether Jessie spoke about wanting to end the relationship in January or February 2018.

He said they talked on the phone about how the relationship should be: “We were talking about moving away from everyone, starting afresh,” Mr Walsh said.

Ms Harris asked: “Were you trying to distance her from her family?”

Mr Walsh replied: “No, not at all, if anything, it was the other way round.”

He said he had been aware of Jessie’s alcohol and mental health issues.

Mr Walsh said: “We were about two months in our relationship when I’ve seen evidence of some sort of drink or alcohol dependency.”

He said he became aware she took Sertraline, medication to treat anxiety and depression, through picking up prescriptions from the local chemists and Jessie opening the prescription at home.

Mr Walsh’s last conversation with Jessie was on the evening of February 1.

He said they had not had any argument, she indicated no thoughts of suicide and asked to describe her mood, said she “seemed quite cheerful”, looking forward to the weekend and seeing Mr Walsh and his son.

Prior to Mr Walsh’s evidence, the contents of a handwritten note by Jessie across three sides of A5 paper found by her family in a drawer in the Beverley home in the weeks after her death were read out.

The note addressed her issues with alcohol and stated: “I’m sober and will stay that way.” It also said: “I also know I’m scared of you and that’s so hard to say out loud and tell you that.”

The inquest is set to conclude on Monday.