North East Wales

Silent 999 call 'myth must be debunked', review says

Karen Catherall Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Karen Catherall made a brief 999 call before her death

The "urban myth" that silent 999 calls will bring help must be debunked, a report into a woman's murder has said.

Karen Catherall, 45, from Gwernaffield, Flintshire, was strangled by a man she met on the Plenty of Fish dating site in September 2014.

A review said she made a 12-second silent call before Darren Jeffreys, who had a history of domestic abuse, fatally attacked her.

The review made 28 recommendations in total.

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Media captionHow to contact police when you can't speak

"It is an urban myth, probably supported by TV programmes, that silent 999 calls always produce an emergency response," the report read.

It said many parents give their children mobile phones in the mistaken belief "they would somehow be traced if in need of rescue" by calling 999.

However, with 30 million silent emergency calls a year, many made by accident or by children, resources are not available to trace them.

"It important that the message is given nationally that silent 999 calls, especially from mobiles, are not guaranteed to bring help," the report added.

The Home Office said there is a system in place called Silent Solutions, which helps callers, such as domestic abuse victims, who cannot speak to an operator.

The report also called for more information on the risks of internet dating, and called for these to be publicised on council safeguarding websites and domestic abuse advise pages.

A review panel made up of emergency service, council and agency officials looked into Ms Catherall's death at the hands of Jeffreys.

He was given a life sentence in 2015.

In sentencing, the court was told how Ms Catherall described him as a "nice man, but possessive".

Following a day's drinking in Mold, the judge heard how Jeffreys subjected her to a "ferocious, sustained, and in the end deadly attack" which caused substantial internal and external injuries probably caused by very hard punches.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Jeffreys called the emergency services and said he could not wake his girlfriend

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