Family of murdered Darlington woman Pamela Glen tell of the trauma of losing a loved one (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Family of murdered Darlington woman Pamela Glen tell of the trauma of losing a loved one
Arna McCabe (left) and Janine Wilby (right), the daughters of Pamela Turner, who was murdered by her former partner in Darlington last year, speak to The Northern Echo
WHEN their mother was brutally murdered in her own home, sisters Arna McCabe and Janine Wilby had their lives turned upside down. One year on from her death, Vicki Henderson went to meet them to find out how a family copes when they lose a loved one in violent circumstances.
“IT still doesn’t feel real. I don’t think we’ve been able to grieve,” says Janine Wilby. “We had so much going on before the trial and then when it was over it seemed as though that was it for everyone. But we had still lost our mum.”
Mrs Wilby, 40, and her sister Arna McCabe, 44, from Darlington, were left devastated when their mother, Pamela Glen, was murdered by her former partner on October 20 last year.
As they struggle to come to terms with their loss, the sisters say that although the support they have had from Durham Police and volunteers from Victim Support has been exceptional, they feel more could be done to help families in their situation.
They have called for a central ‘hub’ that can provide access to counselling, financial advice and practical help for families affected by violent crime.
Ms Glen, 61, also known as Pamela Turner, was stabbed five times by Joseph Turner weeks after she ended their relationship in what was described as a ‘jealous’ attack by the judge after he was convicted of her murder.
The family were forced to sit through seven days of evidence during the trial and listen to Turner’s claims that he had only stabbed the grandmother-of-six because she had goaded him into it.
But despite the trial process, Mrs McCabe and Mrs Wilby were left with unanswered questions, particularly about their mother’s final moments at James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where she was rushed in the early hours.
It was only a chance conversation with her GP that meant Mrs McCabe found out about a service that allows families to visit the hospital and meet staff who cared for their loved one.
She says: “Although the police were absolutely fantastic and told us as much as they could about mum’s death, there’s a lot more that you can find out that we didn’t even know about. I wanted to speak to the people who saw my mum last.
“It was only when I spoke to my doctor that I found out I could go to James Cook. He gave me a number to call and they were fantastic – we had gone a year without knowing anything and a week later we had a meeting with the consultant and the nurse who treated her.
“The nurse was lovely and had such a nice smile, it was so comforting to know she was the last person mum spoke to.
“It’s that kind of thing that you shouldn’t have to find out for yourself, by accident. There should be a service for families.”
While Mrs Wilby was offered some counselling and the family received a small amount of financial support due to lost working hours in the aftermath of Ms Glen’s death, the family feel that more could be done.
Mrs McCabe says: “When it first happened there’s all these people about but when the trial is over and you need someone, that’s when you sit back and think about it all and that’s when you think of things you want to ask or know about.
“I got more information by going to my own doctor or from going on Google.”
Mrs Wilby adds: “The peace of mind that we got from going to the hospital, even though it was hard, was so important. It’s quite annoying that we weren’t told about that.
The issue of support for families of homicide victims was examined in 2011 by then-Victim’s Commissioner, Louise Casey, who produced a report putting forward a number of recommendations to make victims a more central part of the system.
Among the recommendations was the improvement of the Homicide Service to offer centralised support to families, from trauma and bereavement counselling, practical help with paperwork and finances and specialist support for children.
A new Victim’s Commissioner, Baroness Helen Newlove, took over the role earlier this year and is said to be looking at ways to update the report and carry on its work.
The sisters said it was after the trial had ended that the level of support naturally started to drop off and they felt they had fewer options for help and advice.
Mrs Wilby said: “The police that investigated mum’s death and worked with us could not have been better. We knew they had a job to do and they told us what they could before the trial. I actually felt really comfortable with them.
Mrs McCabe adds: “When they are in your life and they are coming and telling you things you still have a glimmer of hope that things might work out.
“It’s when that link ends that you start to feel lonely. There needs to be somewhere for families to go when they’re struggling a bit.”
A spokeswoman for Victim Support, the charity that has been working with Mrs McCabe and Mrs Wilby, said their case highlighted the on-going trauma that victims and their families can face after a violent death.
She added: “We know that crime can affect people in different ways, at different times - and certainly beyond the conclusion of a trial.
“Our caseworkers continually assess the needs of people we work with to make sure they are getting the best possible support. “We would assure those affected by crime that they can access Victim Support services both before and after a case has been to court – we will do all we can to help them for as long as they need.”
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