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East Lancs domestic abuse victims urged to speak out after murder
WOMEN in East Lancashire who are experiencing domestic abuse are being encouraged to seek help.
Councillors, MPs and domestic violence charities have urged women to come forward in aftermath of the murder of Cherylee Shennan in Rawtenstall earlier this year.
Paul O’Hara was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison on Monday after he killed Cherylee, 40, because he was afraid she had told police about how he had previously assaulted her.
O’Hara had only been out on life licence for 23 months, after serving 14 years behind bars for the murder of Janine Waterworth in 1998.
Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry said: “There is no excuse for domestic violence and I would encourage every victim to come forward, to help tackle it here in East Lancashire.
“The recent case of Cherylee Shennan has brought the dangers of abusive partners into sharp focus, and I would urge all victims to seek help.”
A spokeswoman for the STAR Centre in Rossendale said: “I would very much like to encourage anyone who think they might be experiencing domestic abuse to get in touch with their local service or phone the national helpline (0808 2000247). It is free advice and information and your call will be treated as confidential.
“There are services out there. You do not have to experience this alone and everyone has a right to live their life free of fear.”
A spokeswoman for Harv, a domestic violence charity covering Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley, said: “Please don’t be afraid to make contact. We can support you while you’re in an abusive relationship or help you to leave. We understand how difficult it can be to pick up the phone to make that first contact — please be assured you will be treated with respect and sensitivity and most importantly listened to.”
Following Cherylee’s killing, questions have been asked of the Parole Board, over why O’Hara was freed and allowed to kill again.
The Ministry of Justice, which runs the Probation Service, said learning points had already been identified.
A spokesman said: “Our sympathies are with the victims and their families of this horrific attack. Public protection is our first priority and we are determined to have the best possible systems in place to supervise offenders in the community.
“Paul O’Hara alone is responsible for these shocking crimes and, as with any case involving a serious further offence, the National Probation Service has undertaken an investigation into the case."
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