Man who murdered former partner had threatened to kill five other women

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A man who murdered his estranged wife had previously threatened to kill five other partners, a new report has revealed.

Mother-of-three Gemma Marjoram died in 2020 after being stabbed 22 times in a derelict mental hospital on the outskirts of Norwich by abusive Michael Cowey.

Nearly four years on, the domestic homicide review says professionals dealing with the family had warned colleagues not to visit alone as Cowey was considered dangerous.The report states that Cowey had a history of violent, controlling, and coercive behaviour to multiple previous partners.

It found that he had threatened to kill five women, forced three women to have sex with him, threatened four women with weapons and was controlling of seven.He had also been arrested several times for his behaviour against women.

Gemma's sister, Kimberley Seeger said: "I am horrified and angry that he was allowed to continue despite the level of danger in his violent past.

"The fact that social workers and health visitors were advised not to attend alone. It left Gemma in an abandoned situation."

Gemma Cowey was stabbed to death at a derelict, former Victorian mental health hospital around 12.45pm on 19 June. Credit: ITV Anglia

On the day of the murder, Gemma's mother said she had a premonition something was wrong.

Kimberley said: "Gemma was just so bright and bubbly, and the life of the party, she would never sort of worry about what people thought about her. She was full of smiles and happiness and made everyone feel happy around her.

"We always thought that would end, it doesn't matter what happened, if she escaped, it was always going to end this way."

Since her death, Gemma's family have seen statements that she gave to the police cataloguing the abuse she endured.

In 2016, Gemma documented that when she told Cowey she wanted to leave him he threatened her.

The note said: "He went to the kitchen and got a knife, he placed the knife in his trousers and made it clear to me he had it on him..... I had to beg him not to harm me. I cuddled him and said: 'Don't worry, I won't leave.'"

Gemma Marjoram Credit: Family photo

In another incident, while Gemma was calling 999 for help, Cowey mouthed: "You are going to die."

In a police statement from the year she was killed, Gemma reports Cowey saying: "The next time I'm in a police cell it'll be for murder."

Cowey gambled away £17,000 of Gemma's savings during their seven-year relationship.

When Gemma left the relationship, he bombarded her phone with 200 text messages.

Kimberley added: "I honestly believe that she was living like a hostage, in a seriously dangerous situation. Everything she did was monitored, her phone was monitored and there was an on her phone to monitor her location.

"Just because you are not bruised, doesn't mean you aren't being abused."

In the time that Gemma had known Cowey, several reports had been made to various agencies detailing the abuse in the relationship.

The report concludes that when Cowey moved to Norfolk, there was little the agencies would or could have known about his abusive past.

Michael Cowey, of Dragoon Close in Norwich Credit: Norfolk Police

However, the report says if they had spoken to Cowey's ex-partner, it is possible that she would have disclosed some of her experiences and what she knew about his history - not only with her but with other partners too. In court, Cowey pleaded guilty to murder and possessing two knives in a public place.

The judge told him he was a violent, controlling selfish bully.

"You killed Gemma because she challenged your control by leaving you, and you could not stand that," he said.

Cowey was jailed for 23 years but that’s no consolation to her family who have to navigate life without her.

Gemma's other sister, Joanne Royston said: "I still have visions, and sort of hearing her in my head. Some nights I can't sleep, I can't believe it's been four years nearly, you do replay it in your head properly. You think, what if, did I help enough?"

They know Gemma died because of Cowey's actions, but they say, that knowing so many opportunities were missed to save her makes the hurt so much worse.


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