Man jailed for life for murdering Fiona Robinson in Chorley

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his partner Fiona Robinson in Chorley.

Jason Gowen, 27, of Congress Street, Chorley, was sentenced at Preston Crown Court this morning, having previously admitted killing 37-year-old Fiona.

Fiona’s body was found at an address on Congress Street in the early hours of May 26th 2023, after Gowen called 999 reporting that she was unconscious. He initially told officers he thought Fiona had had her drink spiked while out the previous night and had become ill.

However, CCTV of Fiona during her evening out and on making her way home showed that she was walking normally. Crucially, it also showed no evidence that she was in any pain. She was fit and well when she walked through her front door, where Gowen was waiting for her.

Over the next 24 hours, Gowen brutally assaulted Fiona before calling for an ambulance in the early hours of 26th May. When paramedics attended they found Fiona. Her body was covered in bruises, bite marks and she had cuts to her face. Officers also found multiple holes in the walls of the address and a damaged suitcase close to her body.

A post-mortem examination found she had died from multiple injuries, and in particular the pathologist found bruising around her neck consistent with strangulation and evidence of suffocation. She had 16 fractured ribs, five fractures to her lumbar spine process and significant bruising, both old and fresh, over her entire body.

Gowen and Fiona had been in a relationship for 15 months, after Fiona moved to Chorley from Barrow-in-Furness to live with him. During that time there were a number of concerns raised by friends and colleagues of Fiona in relation to injuries that they had observed and also the control they believed Gowen to have over her.

Some of these led to reports to police and subsequent investigations and a disclosure under Clare’s Law was made to Fiona. This revealed that Gowen had previously been the subject of domestic abuse reports with a number of previous partners and that he had also been charged with an offence of assault on a previous partner which was proceeding through the court process.

That case would not reach its conclusion at court before the murder of Fiona Robinson, and Gowen has been sentenced in relation to those offences today too.

Fiona’s family have since spoken out about the impact of Fiona’s death – and are urging anyone in an abusive relationship to speak out and get help.

In a statement read in court, her two teenage children, said: “Emotionally, a massive hole has been left in our lives and our hearts. It's as if we have a constant physical ache in our chests.

“I can be sat on a bus and hear children shout ‘mum’, or walk down the street and hear a child call out ‘mum', and I realise that I'll never be able to say that again myself.”

Speaking about Gowen, they added: “I feel anger towards him as he is the reason I didn't see my mum for the last twelve months and the reason our mum isn't here anymore. If he had never entered our lives she would still be here.”

Fiona’s mother, Susan Dunstan, added: “Since we lost Fiona, I haven't been able to eat or sleep properly. It takes me hours and hours to drift off, and when I do all I can see is Fiona. I find myself going through what must have happened over and over again. It is like living in a nightmare that I just want to wake up from.

“As soon as I open my eyes she is in my thoughts. No mother should ever have to bury her child, especially in such circumstances.

“I cannot get the image of Fiona, injured, out of my head. I have nightmares where I can see it taking place, but I am powerless to stop him.”

Gowen previously appeared in court on 27th October 2023 where he pleaded guilty to murder.

He has now been sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 20 years. For the offences committed against a previous partner he received 40 weeks which will run concurrently.

Det Superintendent Mark Haworth-Oates, of the Lancashire Police, said: “Throughout her relationship with Gowen, Fiona was subjected to physical and psychological abuse, which culminated in the attack which killed her.

“It is clear from speaking to her family that Fiona was a very much-loved daughter, sister, mum and friend and that her death has left a hole in many, many lives. It is utterly heartbreaking, especially as her two children will now have to grow up without her.

“Gowen, has shown himself to be a violent and manipulative offender, who preyed on women that he formed relationships with. While we will never know what caused the violence on that night, it is clear that Gowen put Fiona through an unimaginable ordeal, over a period of 24 hours, inflicting a large number of injuries upon her. He then failed to get Fiona the medical help that she so obviously needed, no doubt all for reasons of self-interest and control, and allowed her to die.

“I hope that the family can start to rebuild their lives now, in the knowledge that Gowen has admitted his guilt and is in prison.

“There is no excuse for abuse. If you hear Fiona’s story and see similarities in your own life or that of a family member or friend then I urge you to seek help and make a report to the Police or other agencies who can provide advice and support.”

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