Authorities to ‘revisit’ decision not to review woman’s chip shop death

Adam Hale, PA Wales Correspondent
·4 min read

Authorities have said they will “revisit” their decision not to hold a review into the death of a woman who claimed her husband burned her with scalding oil following a row in their chip shop.

Mavis Bran, 69, was left with severe burns to 46% of her body after being injured inside the Chipoteria in Hermon, Carmarthenshire, and died from multi-organ failure in hospital six days later on October 29 2018.

Her husband Geoffrey Bran, 72, was cleared of causing her death after he was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter following a week-long trial in November 2019.

The trial heard Mrs Bran alleged her husband had attacked her with a fryer, but authorities in Carmarthenshire previously decided against holding a domestic homicide review (DHR) into the circumstances leading up to her death.

Geoffrey Bran court case
Geoffrey Bran outside Swansea Crown Court where he was cleared of killing his wife after he was accused of burning her with scalding oil following a row in their chip shop (Ben Birchall/PA)

DHRs are required by law to review whether anything about the death of someone which involves allegations of domestic violence can help prevent future incidents for others and improve service responses for victims.

The Community Safety Partnership (CSP) for the area, which includes Carmarthenshire County Council, the Hywel Dda Health Board and Dyfed-Powys Police, has told the PA news agency it will now review the decision.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the CSP told PA: “The decision whether or not to complete a DHR in this case will be revisited in the coming weeks.”

It comes after anti-domestic abuse campaigners Rachel Williams and Janine Roderick, both from the SafeLives charity, expressed their “deep concern” in a letter to the local authority that a review had not been conducted.

Ms Williams told PA: “Why would you not do a DHR when Mavis said what she said to her friend? It just doesn’t make sense.”

It also comes days after Home Secretary Priti Patel ordered Torfaen Council’s Public Service Board to U-turn on its decision not to hold a DHR in the case of Ruth Williams, who was strangled to death by her husband at their home in Cwmbran last March.

Frank Mullane, chief executive of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA), said it is not necessary for someone to be convicted of a homicide for a DHR to take place.

Mr Mullane, who campaigned to ensure DHRs became law in 2011 and has quality-assured more than 800 of the reviews, told PA: “The focus is on making the future safer.

“We should re-run the last few years of the deceased’s life and this time work out ways that might have kept that person alive. Then apply that learning to improve services for current victims and to better inform the community.”

Mr Bran’s trial at Swansea Crown Court heard that on October 23 2018, his wife rang friend Caroline Morgan and told her: “Geoff has thrown boiling oil over me. Please get here, I need you now, help.”

Miss Morgan said she found her a short time later “shocked” and “shaking”, and was told by Mrs Bran: “I was nagging him and he flipped.”

Another friend, Cerys Davies, said Mrs Bran told her on one occasion weeks before her death: “I am frightened. I think he is going to f****** kill me’.”

The court heard that the financial pressures of their various businesses would sometimes put a strain on their marriage, and that people who knew the couple described them as having “short tempers” and that they “always argued”.

While being treated for her injuries, Mrs Bran had a blood alcohol reading of 108mg/dl, higher than the drink-drive limit of 80mg/dl, with her husband saying she was “halfway” to being drunk on red wine.

Mr Bran also told the court his wife was “confused” when blaming him, but said he “couldn’t find an answer” for why he failed to call an ambulance after she ran to their home injured while he continued to serve customers.

He said he believed his wife pulled the deep fat fryer on top of herself by grabbing a frying basket attached to it after she slipped.