Family of murdered mum Jade Ward call for automatic removal of parental rights by convicted killers

Jade Ward's family are calling for the automatic suspension of parental responsibility from a parent who has been found guilty of murdering the other parent.

The family of a mum-of-four are campaigning to change the law against parents who murder after she was killed just yards away from her children.

Russell Marsh, of Chevrons Road in Shotton, Flintshire, was handed a life sentence after he was found guilty of murdering his estranged wife Jade Ward at her home on 26 August 2021.

The court heard how Marsh, 29, slashed, stabbed and strangled Ms Ward in her own bed before burying her under a pile of clothes.

The couple had been in an "on-off" relationship for around nine years and had separated on three occasions, with the final time being a week before Ms Ward was killed.

Despite serving a minimum of 25 years in prison before he is eligible for parole, Marsh still holds parental responsibility over their four boys.

Balloons were released in memory of Jade Ward on Chevrons Road in Shotton.

This means he is still involved in the upbringing of their children and has control over aspects of their welfare such as future medical needs or if they are ever taken out of the country - including going abroad for a holiday.

A family court hearing would be required for Marsh to give permission every time.

This is because in the UK, imprisonment does not automatically restrict parental responsibility. This can only happen following a voluntary agreement or if the other parent takes the incarcerated parent to court.

Following Ms Ward's death, the Flintshire family are now campaigning for "Jade's Law". Their aim is to ensure others do not have to come face to face with the killer after suffering a sudden loss and when a decision over the children needs to be made.

Family friend and law graduate Edwin Duggan said he was approached by Ms Ward's mum, Karen Robinson, to help with the campaign.

Since then, a petition has been launched calling for the automatic suspension of parental responsibility from a parent who has been found guilty of murdering the other parent.

Ms Ward was slashed, stabbed and strangled in her own bed by Marsh before being buried under a pile of clothes.

Mr Duggan explained: "I've known Karen since she was a teenager - through being friends with her brother about 40 years ago - and I've therefore known Jade since she was young. What happened to the family was utterly tragic.

"At the moment, as the law stands, Marsh still has parental responsibility. Although that is limited during his time in custody, the family are now faced with having to seek his permission for anything that relates to their welfare during the time they are in the care of anyone other than their parents.

"We all want this change in the law to create some sort of measure for future children that find themselves involved in tragic circumstances such as these and their surviving family from having to go back through further court processes."

The petition has since gathered more than 1,500 signatures with the aim of at least 10,000 by October in order for the UK Government to respond.