Every third day, in our #EveryThreeDays campaign, I write about a woman killed by a man. Previously in this campaign, which started on 2nd May 2021, I have remembered 86 women – the last being Georgina Symonds, 25, from South Wales.
Today we remember Katrina O’Hara, who was murdered exactly six years ago today in Dorset.
Katrina had informed the police that she felt her life was in danger, reporting her ex-lover Stuart Thomas days before her death. An inquest was held in 2020, with the BBC saying this:
Thomas had been detained on suspicion of harassment but was released on bail. Bournemouth Coroner’s Court heard Ms O’Hara was being “abused, manipulated and coerced” by Thomas, who was married and had “repeatedly lied” that he would leave his wife.
Sgt Adam Aggas said an assessment of the risk Thomas posed was first made on 10th of November after officers were called to reports of a fight between the pair. He said Ms O’Hara had suffered injuries to her lip and elbow after being thrown to the floor, but did not want any police investigation. However, she made an allegation of harassment against Thomas seven days later.
Sgt Aggas said this was not immediately followed up as she was being treated as a suspect for criminal damage and assault against Thomas in relation to the previous incident – accusations later dropped.
The court heard Ms O’Hara’s son called police on 30th of December saying he was concerned Thomas was suicidal and posed a risk to his mother. Sgt Aggas described to jurors how he visited the victim, who told him Thomas had said: “I am going to kill us both – I am going to drive us into a tree.”
Asked by the coroner if he felt Thomas’s perceived risk level should have been higher earlier, he replied: “It was impossible to say what the risk was… the risk increased over the Christmas period.”
The Bournemouth Echo reported a few days later after a verdict had been announced saying:
The family of a woman who was murdered at the barbers where she worked said their focus is now on preventing other families from suffering similar tragedies. Following a 12-day inquest, a jury concluded that 44-year-old hairdresser Katrina O’Hara was unlawfully killed. Stuart Thomas killed Ms O’Hara on January 7th , 2016, at Jocks Barbers in Blandford Forum. Thomas was later convicted of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 26 years.
A statement from the family read by daughter Morgan outside Bournemouth Town Hall, where the inquest took place, said: “This inquest has been another painful chapter in our beautiful mum’s story. It has been incredibly difficult to listen to some of the evidence over the past few weeks and we’re glad it is finally over.