Stacy Banner calls for a public inquiry: “I can’t bring my sister and mum back, but I can help all those other women who are still alive to get support”

23 February 2015

On the first anniversary of her mother and sister’s deaths, Stacy Banner tells her story and calls for a public inquiry into police and state response to domestic violence.

 

Stacy Banner, daughter to Christine Lee and sister to Lucy Lee, says:

StacyBanner-Julian“February 23rd. It is not a date that used to mean anything to me. Until last year, that is. For this time last year my world was turned upside down. The two women who meant everything to me – my sister and my mum – were shot dead. Their names were Lucy Lee and Christine Lee. They were killed on a farm in Surrey by a man named John Lowe – a licensed shotgun holder. A man I had known as my stepdad.

It’s strange having to write about my mum and my sister in the past tense. It still hasn’t sunk in that they’ve gone. I am haunted by what happened to them. I have nightmares every night but I hang on to every memory because I know, now, just how precious those memories are. There is a huge black hole in my life where my mum and my sister should be. And I feel very very angry that they have been taken from me.

Since that dreadful day I have been shocked to learn of the horrific scale of domestic violence in this country and that the murders of my mum and my sister were not an isolated incident. But that two women are killed every week by their partner or ex-partner.

Two women a week. That statistic haunts me. Because that week those two women were my two women. Christine Lee was my mum. She wasn’t a statistic to me. I remember her amazing cooking. I can still taste it. And her singing – she loved to sing but we used to tease her like mad about her terrible voice.

And Lucy Lee was my sister. But she wasn’t just my sister. She was my rock. She was the bravest person I have ever known and she was my protector. She was creative and so clever and funny – really sarcastic. She and I were a team. Whatever life threw at us we stuck together. But now it is just me left. So, however hard it is for me to get up each morning, what keeps me going is that I know I must fight to protect their memory and get justice in their names.

There are no words to describe how my life has changed in the past twelve months. One minute everything was normal and the next minute, it was if time had stood still. I couldn’t believe what people were saying to me. That John Lowe had shot my mum in the farmhouse; that Lucy had been outside mucking out the horses and had dialled 999, telling the operator that she was going in to the house to try and save mum, knowing that she might not come out alive. She was right. Because when she got inside he shot her dead too.

Since that day I have been caught in a never-ending nightmare of letters, phone calls, post mortem reports, police investigations, IPCC reports – not to mention the trial in October. It went on for weeks. I was there every day, hearing in detail how this man had killed the people in this world who were the most precious to me. It was torture. But it didn’t stop there.

StacyBanner- Julian2I knew John Lowe was dangerous and I reported him to Surrey police many times. Because I knew that he would kill. Although Surrey police took his shotguns off him, they gave them back. And then he went on to kill my family. I just cannot understand why a man like that could be allowed to have shotguns. And I am looking forward to hearing what the Independent Police Complaints Commission finds out during their investigation into the decision of Surrey police to return his guns.

I got involved with Refuge at the end of last year because I began to hear stories about other women – women like my sister and my mum. I now know that lots of those women begged the police and other agencies for help but were failed. And that’s why I feel passionately about Refuge’s current campaign #KnowHerName, designed to raise awareness of all the women over the years like my mum and sister who have been killed in a context of domestic violence.

And that’s why I am backing Refuge’s call for a public inquiry to bring an end to the heartache and the suffering and the pain. I can’t bring my sister and my mum back but I can help all those other women who are still alive to get support. In memory of Lucy Lee and Christine Lee. #KnowHerName.

Please click here to sign Refuge’s petition urging the Government to hold a public inquiry into the response of the police and the State to domestic violence.”

By Stacy Banner

 

Click here to read more about Refuge’s #KnowHerName campaign

 

KnowHerName - full names