Woman had made complaint to police the day before her death in ‘murder-suicide’

A mother-of-five who was stabbed and strangled to death in a suspected murder-suicide had made a complaint to police of harassment on the day before her death, a pre-inquest review has heard.

Paramedics and police were called to a flat in Ranelagh Road, Weymouth, Dorset, on April 1 2021, where Sherrie Milnes was pronounced dead.

She had suffered multiple stab wounds and neck compression.

Later that day, Steven Doughty, 54, was found dead at his home in Portland.

An inquest opening into his death heard he died of hanging.

Dorset Police confirmed the pair were known to each other.

Dorset Coroner Rachael Griffin told the Bournemouth hearing that Ms Milnes had made a complaint of harassment against Mr Doughty at 1.08pm on March 31.

She said: “This information is more of a background history rather than factors that were causative or contributory to her death.

“I note a complaint was made to police about harassment in relation to Mr Doughty and arrangements were made for her to be met a few days later.

“It’s not possible to say what would have happened if police had seen Sherrie that day before, even if police had gone to see her, whether it would have prevented her death.

“That is why I said it was not significantly contributory or causative to her death but I am still looking at that.”

Police Stock
Sherrie Milnes had made a complaint about Steven Doughty to Dorset Police (Joe Giddens/PA)

Ms Griffin said she would keep under review whether this police contact could amount to a breach of Ms Milnes’ right to life under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act.

She said the death of Ms Milnes is being investigated by both Dorset Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) as well being subject to a domestic homicide review by the local authority.

Ms Griffin said: “I am not able to progress my investigation until these investigations are completed because they inform my investigation.”

She added: “I am holding the inquest separately to Mr Doughty, which is the request of the family.”

Speaking to Ms Milnes’ family, she said: “I wish to take this opportunity to offer all my sincerest condolences following her death.

“It’s clear to me how loved she was to you all and the impact her loss will have had on you all, my thoughts are very much with you.”

Ms Griffin adjourned the inquest for a full hearing to be held on June 7 2023, with a further pre-inquest review on March 24.

Following her death, Ms Milnes’ family said in a statement that she was born in London and moved to Weymouth and Portland in her 20s, where she worked as a healthcare assistant in care homes.

They said: “She was the most amazing mother of five children, and a nanny to four grandchildren whom she adored.”

At a separate pre-inquest review into the death of Mr Doughty, Ms Griffin adjourned his case for a full hearing on June 2 2023.