Plea to re-open case of mum who ‘stabbed herself multiple times’

A new case analysis of the ‘suicide’ of a Sutton woman who suffered multiple stab wounds has shed new light on her death.

The Sutton family who have been fighting for justice for their daughter, Claire Martin, say they are given hope as criminologist and politicians join their battle to be heard.

On March 1, 2012, Claire, 31, suffered multiple stab wounds in her neck while living with her son and fiance in southern Italy.

Italian pathologists initially called the death a murder, but in a ruling which baffled the family, magistrates decided the death was suicide and have refused to reopen the case. But now criminologists in Derby have reopened the case file to re-examine the circumstances in a bid to ask Italian authorities to reconsider.

Mum Pat Martin, 61, who lives in Sutton, said: “Since we lost Claire life has been a living nightmare. We get through the days – somehow.

Ray and Pat Martin who lost their daughter Claire Martin in a suspected murder five years ago this week.

“All we’ve focused on is trying to get some kind of justice for Claire and her son, and we’ll never give up.

“The Italians have never told us anything. We don’t know what time she died, who was present, that’s what we’ve been met with for years.”

Dad Ray Martin, 61, said: “One day I had a daughter and the next day I didn’t, and nobody is able to tell me why.

“We know Claire didn’t take her own lie. There is a murderer out there.”

Claire Martin, with her mum, Pat. The devastated family are fighting for her case to be head again by Italian magistrates. Claire was staying in Campania in Southern Italy with her fiance Diego before the couple were about to move to Germany, where they first met.

Crime scene photo from the report by Italian authorities. (Source: BBC)


They had a son together, Alex, who is now six, and Diego was away on work when Claire was stabbed outside her apartment and died of blood loss within minutes. Initially, Italian pathologists said the death was a murder until eventually the court decided she had postnatal depression and committed suicide.

“Everyone over there said how bubbly Claire was just before she died, but when they interviewed us all they were interested in was her state of mind,” added Pat.

Two years after the murder, a magistrate said there were ‘challenging issues’ in the case but due to the time frame it ‘was not worth reopening the case’.

Now British investigator with justice charity ‘Murdered Abroad’ has re-opened the case has slammed the Italian authorities for a lack of ‘investigative competence’.

The couple have been going back over case reports and hope to speak with Italian magistrates. Former police detective and criminology lecturer, Tony Blockley, has analysed the findings, and joins the family and a Home Office pathologist in calls for Italian magistrates to reopen the case.

Claire Martin with her fiance Diego and son Alex after the couple settled in Italy.

The senior lecturer in criminology at Derby’s University said: “It is a miscarriage of justice in the truest sense of the word.

“From the information that we have available, there’s a clear lack of any investigation – there’s an investigation of sorts but one of the principles is that you keep an open mind – you form a range of hypotheses and you have to eliminate them until you’re left with only a few. But they’ve honed in on this theory about Claire’s mental health.”

The alleged attack occurred after Claire walked down some steps from her home to her car. A knife was found under the stairs and her car keys were dropped on the floor near her car, suggested to have occurred as she was grabbed from behind. The family says hours after the death the crime scene was cleaned and evidence was later lost.

“I have no idea why the Italian authorities would cover this up. It’s just easier not to investigate. It saves a lot of work.

“They’ve not examined why they came to that conclusion.”

The alleged attack occurred after Claire walked down some steps from her home to her car. A knife was found under the stairs and her car keys were dropped on the floor near her car, suggested to have occurred as she was grabbed from behind. Forensic studies by the team in Derby show the stab wounds were inflicted from a left-handed person, and Claire is said to be right-handed.

And a reconstruction of the events shows Claire was able to climb the stairs back to the house where she called to Diego’s mother “a man, a man”, and pointed to some wasteland behind the house.

Mr Blockley added: “It’s highly unusual for anyone to stab themselves in the throat. The handle of the knife had been wiped clean. Why would someone do that if they had stabbed themselves?

“It’s blindingly obvious that Claire didn’t commit suicide from the material I’ve seen,” said the criminologist. Public support ‘gives us hope’ of reaching out to Italian authorities Since losing their daughter, Pat and Ray have struggled to survive without any closure. The last five years of not knowing have taken their toll on the whole family, said Ray.

But as Politicians and media have come out to support the family’s pleas, they have new hope for action. MP Gloria de Piero has supported Pat and Ray, and arranged for them to visit Europe minister Sir Alan Duncan at the Foreign Office headquarters in London, who has joined them in calling for answers.

And a BBC Inside Out investigation explores the case in a special report, airing 7.30pm tonight (Monday, February 27). “We’ve had support from politicians on the QT before, but this is the first time they have come out in public,” said Ray.

“This is the closest we’ve ever come to getting answers. Thanks to the coverage we’ve been able to start a conversation. But if the Italians refuse to listen we’re back to square one.”

Ms Piero said: “We had a very positive meeting with the Minister for Europe in January and we are hopefully moving in the right direction by arranging a meeting with the relevant authorities in Italy.”

Sir Alan told Inside Out: “The Foreign Office has been trying to do its best on this now for nearly five years and I have reassured Claire’s parents that we will continue to do everything we possibly can to help them – including making sure the issues they have raised are raised in Italy.”

I mean it is the most harrowing case. It’s very frustrating for me as a minister and for Gloria as a Member of Parliament not to be able to do more, but we are dealing with another country’s judicial system.

“This smells a bit, and to just close the case and say ‘oh it’s suicide’ – it’s clearly not true.”

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