A CORONER will raise four areas of concern with authorities following the inquest into the death of mum Katrina O’Hara.

As reported, Ms O'Hara, 44, was killed by Stuart Thomas in January 2016 at Jocks Barbers in Blandford Forum, where she worked.

Thomas was jailed for the murder and an inquest at Bournemouth Town Hall, which finished today, concluded that the mother was unlawfully killed.

Assistant coroner for Dorset Brendan Allen said he will exercise his power to issue a preventing future deaths report.

Mr Allen will send the report to the authorities that he believes have the powers to take action following concerns that came to light during the inquest.

After representations were made on behalf of the family and Dorset Police, Mr Allen outlined the areas his report would encompass.

These were as follows:

  1. Police holding a store of mobile phones that can be supplied to victims of domestic abuse when their own phone has been seized for the purposes of evidence gathering. At the inquest, Mr Allen said he had heard how Dorset Police had acted on this issue following Ms O'Hara's death, however, he wanted to ensure police forces across the country had also considered this step. The hearing was told that Greater Manchester Police had initiated a scheme to provide victims of domestic abuse with replacement phones following Ms O'Hara's murder.
  2. Training for police officers in their use of a reporting system, called Niche, which is understood to be used by at least 23 forces in England and Wales. The inquest heard the system had not been in use with Dorset Police for a long time when Ms O'Hara was killed. Mr Allen said officers needed to be trained in the flagging and linking of reports to police, which are all features that can be done on the software.
  3. The handling of 999 calls. Mr Allen said this point related to members of the public making a report of a crime that was not deemed to be an emergency. He said if Ms O'Hara had contacted Dorset Police now after changes had been made by the force, then a call she made would have been handled differently. The coroner wanted to ensure other forces had learned the lessons that Dorset Police had in this case.
  4. When assessing risk in a case, the need to view a suicidal perpetrator as a significant risk to the abuse victim. This is another area where Dorset Police has made changes and these were explained at the hearing.

Mr Allen's report will be sent to various authorities and figures, including policing minister Kit Malthouse MP and National Police Chiefs Council lead for domestic abuse Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, of West Midlands Police.

It will also be issued to interested parties to the inquest, which includes Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan.

Following the conclusion of the inquest, Dorset Police Deputy Chief Constable David Lewis said: “Katrina O’Hara’s death is a tragedy and my heart goes out to her family and friends.

“Following the inquest the jury has concluded that this was an unlawful killing.

“On January 4, 2016, Ms O’Hara told the police that her ex-partner had breached his bail conditions by means of indirect contact. On the same day, a statement was taken from Ms O’Hara’s daughter to evidence the breach. No further investigation was conducted into the breach and the officer in the case of the original allegation was not contacted regarding the breach.

“Whilst the jury recognised that it cannot be concluded that the lack of further investigation more than minimally contributed to Ms O’Hara’s death, we acknowledge that Ms O’Hara’s report of breach of bail was not dealt with as it should have been and I would expect a breach of bail to be followed by further prompt action.

"Since the tragic event and following the IOPC investigation, the force has already tightened up the response to such incidents and clarified the procedure for recording and progressing breaches of police bail and implemented a process for all types of breach of bail, which now includes a requirement of management oversight and a continued central scrutiny.”