Domestic violence homicide perpetrator Michael Cope sentenced to life in jail

Refuge responds to the conviction and sentencing of Michael Cope for the murder of Linzi Ashton

Linzi Ashton was killed by her ex partner, Michael Cope, in June 2013. Today in Manchester Crown Court Cope was sentenced to life, with a minimum term of 27 years, after pleading guilty to her murder.

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, says:


Sandra Horley CBE“Today is a very tragic day. Another woman who experienced domestic violence is dead. Two more young children have lost their mother. My thoughts go out to Linzi Ashton’s family and friends at this difficult time.

Refuge will continue to speak out for the dead to protect the living. Two women suffer Linzi’s fate every single week in England and Wales.  It is unacceptable that domestic violence still carries this appalling death toll.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating Greater Manchester Police’s response to Linzi.  In the months leading up to her death, Linzi reported Cope for rape and assault, and told police officers that he had threatened to kill her.  We await the decision of the IPCC as to whether the force made any failings in its response to this vulnerable woman.

Greater Manchester Police has been criticised in the past on a number of occasions for failing to protect victims of domestic violence. After Sabina Akhtar was killed by her husband in September 2008, an inquest found that the force – along with the CPS and Manchester social services – made “significant and serious failings” in its response to her. Following the death of Katie Boardman in October 2008, the IPCC found “a number of failings” by Greater Manchester Police. The IPCC investigation into the death of Clare Wood in 2009 again found “systemic failures” by Greater Manchester Police, with some officers demonstrating “a shocking lack of understanding about the nature of domestic violence”.

Refuge is calling on the Government to open a public inquiry into the response of the police and other state agencies to victims of domestic violence.  We need to understand why so many women and children are still not getting the support and protection they deserve.”

Click here to sign our petition calling for a public inquiry.