Mother-of-three, 30, took her own life to escape abusive partner who said she would be doing everyone ‘a favour’ after police failings

Mother-of-three, 30, took her own life to escape abusive partner who said she would be doing everyone ‘a favour’ after police failings

Police revealed themselves to have a ‘lack of understanding of controlling and coercive behaviour’ in the case of a woman who took her own life to escape an abusive relationship, a coroner has said.

Kellie Sutton, 30, hanged herself at the home she shared with violent partner Steven Gane after he goaded her by saying: ‘Do everyone a favour.’

Gane was subsequently jailed for 51 months after being found guilty of controlling and coercive behaviour, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault by beating.

An inquest concluded mother-of-three Ms Sutton died by suicide but this was overturned last July in a legal first involving a domestic violence victim taking their own life when a new inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough assistant coroner Samantha Broadfoot KC has now sent a prevention of future deaths report to Hertfordshire Police outlining failings that may have led to Ms Sutton’s death.

Steven Gane (pictured) was jailed for four years and three months for bullying her to the point of wanting to die

As well as the failure to understand controlling behaviour, she wrote there was a ‘lack of awareness of the link between domestic abuse and suicide’ and confusion among frontline officers about the ‘circumstances in which a Domestic Violence Protection Notice could be applied for’.

A DVPN is a civil order which allows police and magistrates’ courts to enforce protective measures following an incident where there is insufficient evidence to charge a suspect.

Ms Sutton, of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, died in hospital on August 26, 2017, after Gane rushed home when she stopped responding to his messages.

Her last text read: ‘Hope you feel bad, for this is your fault, you told me to do everyone a favour, so that’s what I shall do. Hope your life’s better without me.’

Ms Sutton had been involved in a series of abusive relationships before she started dating Gane in March 2017 and he moved into her home, where she lived with two of her children.

He was physically violent towards her on several occasions and on one occasions she ended up in hospital with a 1.5in gash on the top of her head.

His controlling behaviour included ‘shouting, threatening, phoning constantly if she was out, isolating her from her family and friends and keeping her bank card’.

Ms Broadfoot noted in her report that a neighbour called the police on July 9, 2017, to say Ms Sutton was being ‘beaten up by her partner’.

The Judge sitting at St Alban's Crown Court said all Kellie wanted was a stable relationship but 'she had the misfortunate to meet you', referring to Gane

But the couple claimed it had been a verbal argument and officers failed to speak to the neighbour who ‘was in possession of significant further information, including that one of the children had witnessed it’.

The abuse continued, leading to Ms Sutton’s suicide a few weeks later.

Jailing Gane in March 2018, Judge Philip Grey told him: ‘Your behaviour drove Kellie Sutton to hang herself that morning. You beat her and ground her down and broke her spirits.’

He was also handed a Criminal Behaviour Order, requiring him to inform police of any future sexual relationship that lasts more than 14 days.

The jury at the second inquest into Ms Sutton’s death found that, had the police investigated further, it ‘may have led to further interventions that could have altered the final outcome’, Ms Broadfoot said.

She also highlighted the force’s ‘lack of systems available at the time to easily identify serial perpetrators of abuse’ – although she added changes has already been made in this area and it was no longer among her concerns.

Hertfordshire Police have until June 24 to respond to the report.

But Assistant Chief Constable Amanda Bell said the force had created a Vulnerability Information Portal since the tragedy. The app on officers’ phones gives them access to information about subjects including coercive behaviour, domestic abuse and suicide.

She added: ‘The link between domestic abuse and suicide now features prominently in all our training around sudden deaths.’

There was now also revised guidance for officers attending a report of a sudden death, including reviewing the domestic abuse history of those involved, Ms Bell said.

Speaking after the first inquest’s conclusion was overturned, Ms Sutton’s mother, Pamela Taylor, said she had been a ‘much-loved mother, daughter, sister, auntie and friend’.

She added: ‘It is an unspeakable loss and something I will never get over.’

For confidential support, call Samaritans on 116 123, visit or visit

Andrew Levy

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