Concepta Leonard was murdered by her ex-partner Peadar Phair just hours before a non-molestation order she had taken out against him was due to expire.
The apparent murder-suicide, despite Ms Leonard having sought protection from the courts, makes the case particularly tragic and raises important societal questions about domestic violence in Northern Ireland, the charity Women’s Aid has said.
Concepta ‘Connie’ Leonard was fatally attacked at her home in the Maguiresbridge area of Fermanagh on Monday.
Her disabled son, 30-year-old, Conor also suffered stab wounds in an assault police are treating as attempted murder.
The man thought to have been responsible for the bloodshed, Concepta’s ex-partner Mr Phair, is dead; it is believed he committed suicide at the scene.
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Courts Service confirmed to the News Letter that Ms Leonard had taken out a non-molestation order against Mr Phair – a civil court action designed to prevent an ex-partner from using or threatening violence.
The order was due to expire on Tuesday and Ms Leonard was due to apply for a new non-molestation order on the same day.
Jan Melia, CEO of the Northern Ireland Women’s Aid Federation, said the fact that Ms Leonard had sought protection from her ex-partner made the case all the more tragic.
“This is someone who was obviously frightened enough to have sought help.
“That’s what is so tragic about this, that she had sought help from the authorities, and yet, he was still able to kill her.”
She added: “The thing about non-molestation orders is that women can find them quite difficult to access.
“It is a civil order and only becomes criminal if it is breached – and generally the police here are quite good at following up when there is a breach.
“But that didn’t happen here. She was due to get another one when this happened.”
Kerrie Flood, of Fermanagh Women’s Aid, explained: “Yes, she sought the protection of the court but unless that order is breached, there is very little the police can actually do.
“For us in Women’s Aid, our focus is on the fact that legislation, coercive control legislation, hasn’t progressed in Northern Ireland because we lack an Executive.
“That legislation would have allowed the authorities to catalogue any pattern of coercive behaviour and that would have been a criminal offence, where the police can take action.”
• To contact Women’s Aid call 08088021414, or in an emergency call 999.