Pharmacist’s family back review into her murder at hands of controlling husband

·3-min read

The family of a pharmacist who was killed by her gay husband, who wanted to start a new life in Australia with his lover, have urged people to open their eyes to abuse.

Jessica Patel’s family have backed a domestic homicide review (DHR) which has made recommendations about honour-based violence.

The 34-year-old was strangled at the marital home in Middlesbrough in May 2018 by her husband Mitesh, who tried to cover his tracks by staging a break-in, claiming an intruder must have murdered his wife.

Mitesh Patel court case
Mitesh Patel murdered his wife so he could claim £2m in life insurance and set up a new life in Australia with his boyfriend (Cleveland Police/PA)

His lies were exposed, partly through evidence from the health app on his iPhone, and he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years.

Her family assisted in the painful DHR process to see if lessons could be learned.

After its publication, they said: “We hope this review will help other victims, those closest to them and the wider public to recognise the various forms and signs of abuse, and will remove any barriers, be it cultural or otherwise, to seeking help and getting the support they need.

Mitesh Patel court case
Relatives of murder victim Jessica Patel wearing Justice for Jess jumpers outside Teesside Crown Court where her husband Mitesh was jailed for life (Tom Wilkinson/PA)

“As a family this review was an extremely painful process but we recognise the importance of highlighting Jessica’s story to provide a voice for her and others that may be suffering in silence.

“So that this act of evil is not repeated, we encourage everyone to open their eyes, to ask questions and never assume everything is OK.”

Mrs Patel was not well known to local agencies during her nine-year marriage.

The review made a number of recommendations, including making sure that messages about reporting domestic abuse, and looking for signs of it, are getting through to all communities.

Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for culture and communities and chairwoman of the Community Safety Partnership, said: “Jessica’s family have suffered a great deal and we wish to express our sincerest condolences to them.

“We are also enormously grateful to them for their involvement in the review at such a difficult time.

“Their invaluable input has helped to paint a fuller picture of Jessica’s life, and gave her the voice – which was taken from her – to disclose the extent of abuse she suffered at the hands of her perpetrator.”

Ged McManus, independent chairman and author of the report, said: “This report does not point to failures of services but it does suggest ways in which services can be improved and the risk for other potential victims in the future can be reduced.”

Trial judge Mr Justice Goss told Patel he only had pity for himself, and that his wife loved him and desperately wanted a family with him, but that he was only sexually attracted to men.

“She was lonely, often upset and controlled by you,” the judge told the killer.