Every third day, in our #EveryThreeDays campaign, I write about a woman killed by a man. Previously in this campaign, which started on the 2nd of May, we have remembered 45 women, the last being the highly talented classical pianist Natalia Strelchenko.
Today we remember Julie Collier, 55, who was disabled and lived with her husband in a maisonette in Chippenham Wiltshire. Julie had a problematic life needing a mobility scooter and wheelchair because of nerve damage in her legs following a fall.
Her husband was Christopher Collier, who it appeared had an ideal start in life, attending one of the best schools in the country and studying at Oxford University. Still, as life unfolded, he became an alcoholic and suffered from a very short temper.
Sadly, Julie was an alcoholic, too, perhaps brought on by seeking relief from being disabled. One evening in September 2015, Julie and her husband had a drinking session that Christopher Collier claimed led to him being threatened by Julie. In response, he punched Julie, who weighed just seven stones, then he left her on the floor whilst going out to buy more drinks.
On his return, he stated that he thought his wife was asleep (on the floor?), but in the morning, failing to wake his wife, he called 999. Very sadly the ambulance crew could not save Jullie – she had died from a subdural haemorrhage.
Initially, Christopher Collier was charged with murder, but this was downgraded to a charge of manslaughter, to which he pleaded guilty.
At Bristol Crown Court, in February 2016, he was sentenced to four years in prison with the judge saying: “This was not a case of a fight involving just one punch. There was a struggle in which you punched her more than once, you ended up on the floor, and she banged her head on the floor.”
This story concerned me in three ways. Firstly that two human beings were leading a life of alcoholism with what would appear to be no support from Wiltshire Social Services. Secondly, on researching this remembrance, I had difficulty finding out details of Julie’s case – this story seems to have been ignored by many in the media.
Because this was a domestic violence issue? Because both were alcoholics?
And finally, many, I suspect, would argue that this was an exceedingly light sentence for being responsible for taking the life of another human being.
The fact was Julie was a very popular lady within her community, with neighbours saying this: “Julie was a lovely person who would do so much when she could for other people”. Another said, “She was a fragile lady but very nice and was very friendly”, and another said, “She was a lovely lady, every day you would see her out and about going to town and back. Everyone knew who she was and would say hello as she came past”.
Authored by Steph @PlaceSteph