December 9 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
A vivacious Norfolk woman was shot dead by her husband after years of violence - helped in part by a “domestic abuse does not happen here” attitude in their community.
That is the shocking claim made in the report into the death of Andrea Johnson, who in December 2012 was shot on her neighbour’s driveway by council leader husband Keith, who then killed himself with the same gun in their back garden.
The domestic violence homicide review lifts the lid on the Johnsons’ marriage, which saw Mr Johnson often resorting to violence and verbal abuse, according to Mrs Johnson’s private diary, discovered after her death.
The stormy relationship ended on December 2 last year, when Mr Johnson shot his wife in the chest with her own, legally-held shotgun before turning the gun on himself.
It came when Mr Johnson called his wife home for a meeting a couple of days after throwing her out of their home at Compit Hills on the edge of Cromer, prompting her to move in with a man with whom she was in a relationship.
While no blame was apportioned to anyone except Mr Johnson for his wife’s death, one of the contributors to the report said domestic violence was “everybody’s business” as she urged people to learn how to spot the signs.
Laura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council and a member of the panel that drew up the domestic violence homicide review, said: “This case was a terrible shock to so many people. But how many people had contact with them and would have had an idea what was going on?
“Domestic violence can happen to anyone and it is everybody’s business.”
Gaynor Mears, who chaired the Norfolk County Community Safety Partnership and penned the domestic violence homicide review, said: “People have this stereotype of the sort of victim who suffers domestic abuse.
“But it’s far from the case. What’s more difficult is that it’s much harder for people in these sorts of cases because they have much more to lose.”
Ms Mears said Mr Johnson’s “public persona” as a former Cromer mayor, leader of North Norfolk District Council and a council member of Norfolk County FA for 13 years may have made it “unthinkable that he was abusing” his wife.
She said: “The information available to agencies at the time of the fatal incident would not have enabled them to predict the terrible event which led to Mrs Johnson’s death.
“That she had experienced domestic abuse for many years at the hands of her husband was unknown to them. His public persona and high standing in the community may also have made it unthinkable that he was abusing her in the privacy of their own home, and indeed there is still incredulity in some quarters that he shot her and then took his own life.
“One of the main lessons to be learnt by professionals from this case is the need to suspend all disbelief that a person who is high profile and seen as doing good in their community cannot be a perpetrator of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse takes place in all strata of society.”
She added: “No-one thought a man such as her husband with influential connections, a high profile in his local area for doing good, and dedicated to working for his community would be a perpetrator of domestic abuse in private, therefore would she be believed?
“They lived in an area in which some had a ‘domestic abuse does not happen here’ approach.”