Author Topic: My ex-husband burned my mother to death in front of me if the police had ....  (Read 5884 times)


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My ex-husband burned my mother to death in front of me if the police had taken me seriously, she'd still be here today

    Susan Lynch has bravely shared her story in ITVX's A Murder in The Family
    The mother-of-two, 52, tried to raise the alarm with police about Kieren's threats
    In March 2018, Kieren murdered Susan's mother before setting himself on fire
    That morning, police had decreased the case's risk level from 'high' to 'medium'
By Lydia Hawken For Mailonline

Updated: 14:42, 5 January 2023

A woman has revealed how she watched in horror as her ex-husband burned her mother to death in front of her.  Susan Lynch, 52, from Benfleet, Essex, was at her mother Jennifer Cronin's home in March 2018 when her abusive ex Kieren Lynch, 50, broke into the garden with his arm was on fire.  As Susan made a cup of tea inside, Kieren doused Jennifer's face, head and back in petrol and set her on fire. He then engulfed the rest of his body in flames.   Kieren died later that evening at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, while Jennifer passed away 17 days later.  Appearing on ITVX's new series A Murder in The Family, Susan stressed how she believes her mother would still be alive in police had taken her complaints seriously.  A spokesperson from Essex police confirmed that on the morning of the murder, officers changed the status of the case from 'high risk' to 'medium' meaning they did not expect there to be 'imminent' physical harm.   The couple who shared daughters Matilda and Molly were married for 24 years before Kieren developed a cocaine addiction. Susan said in the new show that his 'personality change when he'd had a drink'.

Detailing some of the early abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, Susan explained: 'It would start with pushing and poking into your chest but it escalated over time. Gradually, more force would be used [such as] sitting on my chest or pushing on my throat.  He would be full of apologies the next day but there would always be a reason why he lost his temper.  I was embarrassed that I didn't do anything [in response]. I was embarrassed that it happened to me. I never said anything to anybody I never even told my mum. I just accepted it.'

After initially trying to help her husband, Susan ended the relationship when his volatile behaviour became too much to handle anymore.   Although Kieren started to get his life back on track in the wake of the split, Susan says he became aggressive again after learning she was seeing someone new.  In January 2018, he sent a string of violent text messages, before going to the family home and smashing up the garden patio with a hammer.  He was arrested for criminal damage but released on bail later that night, with conditions not to contact Susan.  But he continued to call her and her family up to 80 times a day and, the day before the petrol attack, even threatened to kill one of his daughters.  In the new show, Susan shared audio from a phone call she made to police 2am the night before her mother's murder.  She told police: 'My ex-husband is constantly calling me all through the night. He's doing it to my mum, where my daughter is staying.'

Terrified Susan called the police six times in just 24 hours, but Kieren was not re-arrested.  Jennifer was frightened by Kieren's threats and Susan had gone to comfort her mother at her house in South Benfleet, Essex, when Kieren arrived 'screaming his head off' with his arm on fire.  Unable to save her mother from the attack, Susan said: 'She had no eyebrows, no eyelashes. All her hair was burnt off.  Her hands were red raw. Her face everything was sort of black.'

The couple's daughter Matilda said: 'I didn't ever think it would end that way. Not my nan. I just wish something would have clicked in his head [to tell him] he'd gone too far.  People knew there was a problem, but none of us thought it was going to go this far at any point.'

Reflecting on what drove Kieran to murder, she continued: 'I think he did it to hurt me. He knew how close I was to my mum and he knew how much we meant to each other and I think it was the biggest way of hurting me.'

However, Susan is certain that her mother would still be alive if the police had responded quickly to her concerns.  She added: 'It could have been prevented. The police didn't protect us. We were shouting and screaming and waving it in their faces and the failings were shocking.  If they'd done their job properly, my mum would be here.'

Susan has previously said that neighbours tried to prevent her watching the scene unfold before the emergency services arrived but she wanted to be there for her mother in her final moments.  She said: 'I went to my mum, she was totally bald, all her hair had been burnt off. But she was so serene, she told me she loved me. I think she knew she was dying.'

Elsewhere in the programme, a spokesperson for Essex police said: 'At 7:29 in the morning of the 13th [March 2018], the case was re-risk assessed and it was declared that it was now medium risk rather than high.  Medium risk cases are where there is still potential risk of serious harm but that risk might not be imminent.  There had been a break-up and obviously Kieren was taking it extremely badly. It was dealt with as domestic break up and in hindsight, that was the wrong decision. It should have remained high.'

A week-long jury inquest in January 2019 concluded that Jennifer was unlawfully killed while Lynch died by suicide but poor communication by Essex Police had been a factor.  In March 2019, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) identified a 'lack of clarity' over domestic abuse offences and a lack of 'positive action' from officers.  A domestic homicide review also criticised the police for allowing Lynch to slip through the net, saying his behaviour 'amounted to stalking'.  Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings said: 'Since Jennifer's tragic death five years ago, domestic abuse crimes are falling, we have hundreds more officers who are dedicated to keeping people safe and catching criminals and we have invested significantly in our training and in specialist teams.  I have met Susan Lynch and apologised to her for what happened in 2018. I have personally invited her to come and talk to our new teams. We want to work together to make Essex an even safer place to live, and to make sure we prevent crimes in the future. We admire her and her family's bravery in speaking-out about what Kieren Lynch did to her and to her family. That's why we took part in the TV programme too.  We have also reviewed our approach to the way we identify our highest risk Domestic Abuse perpetrators, building an evidence-backed database that looks at multiple markers, including jealousy, stalking and history of violence. We have built whole new teams to support victims and manage risks from perpetrators we are a far stronger force than we were five years ago, in every way.'

A Murder in The Family lands exclusively on ITVX on Thursday 5th Jan. If you have been affected by the issues in this story, Women's Aid offers a free support line: 01708 765200

What is coercive control?

Coercive control became a criminal offence in December 2015. It describes a pattern of behaviour by an abuser to harm, punish or frighten their victim. This pattern of behaviour can include manipulation, degradation, gaslighting and also monitoring and controlling the person’s day-to-day life from whether they can see friends and families, to what activities they can undertake and what clothing they can wear.  A 2014 study found that 95 out of 100 domestic abuse survivors reported experiencing coercive control.  Further studies in 2015 found that women are far more likely than men to be victims of abuse that involves ongoing degradation and frightening threats – two key elements of coercive control.

Typical red flags include:

    Your partner bombards you with messages and gets angry when you don't reply
    From 'idolising' you in the beginning, your partner chips away at your self-esteem by withdrawing affection 
    Your partner takes everyday decisions are taken out of your hands 
    Suggests a joint bank account and demand to know what you've spent money on 
    Your partner wants a say over who you are friends with, attempts to control how you look and dress and begins to exert control over what job you do.