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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Barrow domestic abuse victim tells how she is rebuilding her life

WHEN Barrow woman Fiona Stagg first met Darren Doran she was convinced that she had found the love of her life.

It was, by her own admission, a whirlwind romance; one which had started in the most unlikely of places.

But far from the happy-ever-after ending she had started to dream of, the relationship took a sinister turn which almost resulted in her death.

Her former partner is now serving a six-year jail term after being found guilty of wounding with intent.

And Miss Stagg today bravely speaks about her terrifying experience and how her pregnant daughter saved her life.

Miss Stagg said: “If it wasn’t for Megan stepping in and confronting him I wouldn’t be here today. She saved my life that night.”

The seven-month relationship turned nasty within a matter of weeks and, on January 28, Doran beat Miss Stagg with an elephant statue, fracturing her skull in several places and leaving her lying in a pool of blood.

On July 23 at Preston Crown Court, Doran was jailed for six years after the brutal attack that took place in the home they shared in Longway, Barrow.

The unprovoked attack on the 39-year-old was disturbed by her daughter Megan Gleaves, who came downstairs after hearing a thud.

Miss Stagg said: “When he first hit me, earlier in the relationship, I blamed myself, I shouldn’t have but I did. He was a drug user and suffered with mental health issues so I always felt like his carer.”

Miss Stagg first met Doran when they were both seeking treatment at Dane Garth, a mental health unit on the grounds of Furness General Hospital.

She added: “I would give him money for the gas and electric bills and he would disappear for three days, taking legal highs and drinking alcohol.

“When he would return he would be on a comedown and would take it out on me.”

The court was told that at the time of the attack Miss Stagg’s 20-year-old daughter was in bed when she heard a sound like someone falling over.

When the expectant mother went downstairs she confronted Doran and prevented him from hitting her mother one last time.

The 34-year-old thug then fled, while Ms Gleaves comforted her mother and called an ambulance.

At Preston Crown Court it was revealed Doran had 75 previous offences to his name, including assaulting a previous partner.

Miss Stagg wants her story out to help other victims of domestic violence. She added: “Domestic violence comes in many shapes and sizes and if my pictures can end up helping one person in getting out then it’s worth it. Domestic violence can be physical, it can be psychological and it can happen to anyone, women or men.”

The beating she received in January has left Miss Stagg with psychological wounds that are still healing.

She said: “The abuse has made me a nervous wreck, I struggle to leave the house as I have panic attacks just going to the shops.

“My memory isn’t very good since he hit me with the ornament and I can’t taste or smell anything.

“Megan and her boyfriend live with me and they give me the courage to carry on.

“If it wasn’t for those two I wouldn’t be able to carry on.

“At the moment I am focusing on getting everything that’s negative out of my life.”

Detective Constable Dan Chadwick, of South Cumbria Public Protection Unit, led the investigation and felt Doran deserved his punishment.

He said: “I am pleased that Doran has been punished for his actions. Domestic violence will not be tolerated in Cumbria – no one should have to live in fear in their own homes.

“I would encourage anyone who has any concerns to get in touch; all reports will be dealt with sensitively and professionally.”

Rebecca Rawlings, the centre manager at Women’s Community Matters in Barrow, said: “To be hurt in this way by the person you love and the person you believe loves you is terrible. This lady has been very brave to share her story and I hope it encourages other women in abusive relationships to seek help.”

Anyone who would like to report domestic violence should call Cumbria police on 101, or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always call 999.

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