Every third day, in our #EveryThreeDays campaign, I write about a woman killed by a man. Previously this month, I have written about Sohbia Khan, Chrissie Azzopardi, Jacqueline Barratt, Anne Dunkley and on the 16th of June, Jo Cox MP.
Today the 19th of June, we remember Christine Chambers, who was shot dead, along with her two-year-old daughter Shania by her former partner David Oakes ten years ago this month.
Christine lived in Braintree, Essex, and two of her children lived with her. The older of the two was ten-year-old Chelsea who's father was Ian, but sadly, Ian and Christine's relationship had broken down. Both moved on with Christine, then meeting David Oakes and having a daughter named Shania.
For a spell, the relationship flourished, but then Oakes started to abuse Christine physically, and eventually, the two split up, with Oakes leaving the family home. As the former relationship soured, the abuse got worse, and the Police became involved, interviewing Oakes on at least six different occasions.
Oakes had also decided to battle for custody of his daughter, and as the threatening behaviour got worse, Christine's son, on occasions, started to stay at the house to give his mum support. Then the night before the court hearing in the battle for Shania, Oakes returned to the home.
Then a horror story unfolded.
A few years later, Chelsea felt strong enough to tell The Mirror what happened:
“We were in Mum’s room and watched Family Guy before we all fell asleep together in her bed. The next moment, I saw David standing over us. We suspected he had a spare key and usually blocked the door with a curtain pole, but that night we forgot. He said he was going to kill us all and burn the house down. He had a big duffel bag out of which he pulled his shotgun, axe and a can of petrol. I grabbed a phone and tried to hide under the bed to call the police, but he yanked me out and smashed the phone with the barrel of the gun".
“He told Mum to take off her clothes, and Shania and I sat on the bed, screaming. He then ordered Mum downstairs. After getting her sister back to sleep, Chelsea crept to the top of the stairs to hear what was happening below."
“I heard David smash the TV with the axe, and he threatened to cut off Mum’s nipples. He was hitting her and making her chop off her hair. He threatened to put Mum in a wheelchair and said she’d have to wheel herself behind our coffins. I remember thinking we are all going to die and began to cry. Mum came upstairs. She was topless with clumps of hair missing and blood coming out of her mouth."
“She held me tight and whispered in my ear to go and get help. She said she was proud of me and that she would always love me and would see me soon. Then she went back downstairs.”
Chelsea, who says her mum was her “best friend”, climbed out of her bedroom window to run to her dad’s house [Ian], five minutes’ up the road.
It was 3am, I could hardly speak and burst into tears, saying, ‘It’s David. He’s going to kill them.’ Dad rang the Police who sent officers to Mum’s and to us. We were taken to a police station. We waited all night for news. It wasn’t until the next morning we were told he’d killed them both. I felt guilty for not waking up Shania. I could have caught her from the bottom and saved her but I was trying to save her and Mum.”
But we are no further advanced in protecting women from domestic incidents and every three days a woman is murdered by a man. In nineteen out of twenty cases, the perpetrator is a man the victim knows.
Over Christmas 2020 over 50% of arrests in Warwickshire made by the Police, were domestic abuse and violence-related incidents.
And still, the Police fail women.
In Christine's case, it was revealed there was a systemic failure by Essex Police to record all the domestic incidents and Chelsea was eventually awarded £21,500 in compensation.
But money dont bring her mum and sister back.
And David Oakes?
Within just four months of starting a life sentence, he died of cancer - and very sadly a few years later, Chelsea's dad passed away as well.
Christine Chambers and her daughter Shania.
Authored by Steph @PlaceSteph