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Murdered mother-of-four’s family says her killer husband should lose parental rights after he was jailed for 25 years for disfiguring her face with knife and choking her to death while their children slept in next room
- Russell Marsh, 29, murdered his wife of ten years Jade Ward, 27, in August 2021
- UK legislation means Marsh still has parental rights over their four sons
- ‘Jade’s Law’ would suspend these – it will be debated in Parliament next month
- The killer husband was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison in April
The family of a murdered mother of four sons is campaigning for her killer husband to lose his parental rights – because they still have to ask his permission for medical issues and holidays.
Russell Marsh, 29, murdered his wife of ten years, Jade Ward, 27, a week after she broke up with him in August 2021.
The killer, who was sentenced to 25 years in April, disfigured her face with a knife and choked her to death as their children slept in the next room at her home in North Wales.
But current legislation still gives Marsh parental rights and Jade’s family says it means he still has ‘control’ over the family.
Jade Ward (left), 27, was murdered by her husband Russell Marsh, 29, in August last year. Her mother Karen Robinson (right) is campaigning for Marsh to lose his parental rights
Ms Ward’s mother, Karen Robinson, 51, is campaigning to introduce a law in her daughter’s name to suspend immediately the parental rights of any parent found guilty of murdering the other.
A petition launched earlier this year has passed the threshold of 100,000 signatures, meaning it will be debated in Parliament next month.
Karen, from Flintshire, paid tribute to her ‘beautiful, amazing (and) loving’ daughter who had a ‘heart of gold’.
Jade’s mother Karen paid tribute to her ‘beautiful, amazing (and) loving’ daughter who had a ‘heart of gold’. Pictured: Jade Ward
Russell Marsh, right, a ‘possessive’ husband has been jailed for a minimum of 25 years after being found guilty of murdering his wife Jade, left, a week after she broke up with him
She said: ‘Her (children) were everything to her and Russell knew that. He used them against her during their marriage and now he’s using his parental rights against us.
‘The fact a father who murdered his children’s mother still has any sort of rights over his kids is beyond me.
‘He took Jade’s rights on the night he killed her. Because he still has control over Jade’s (children), he still has control over us as a family.’
Judge Rowlands told Mold Crown Court that the mother-of-four (pictured) would have endured an ‘excruciating’ amount of pain in what is no doubt ‘an awful way for a young woman to lose her life’
Jade’s mother Karen Robinson (pictured, left, with her daughter, right) said having to deal with what had happened was ‘horrific’. She said: ‘We are so stressed and on edge, and we want to stop families from going through the same thing in the future’
Marsh initially claimed Ms Ward’s death was accidental and that she had asked him to choke her during sex but judge Rhys Rowlands told Mold Crown Court his case was nothing but ‘falsehoods and slurs’.
Officers found Ms Ward’s body slashed, stabbed and strangled and dumped under a pile of clothes in a room which was sealed shut with a dressing gown cord.
Marsh handed himself into police after driving the children to his parents’ home in Chester.
He had ‘jokingly’ made claims that if he could not have her then nobody could.
‘Tragically, it transpired to be the truth,’ said Judge Rowlands.
The judge continued: ‘You wanted to make Jade suffer. She would have woken in the dark to find you in her bedroom and thereafter subjected to a horrific ordeal.
The court heard that Marsh (right) and Ms Ward’s (left) relationship was ‘on and off’ for over nine years but the mother-of-four worked up the courage to end the relationship ‘for good’ that summer
Pictured: Police on Chevrons Road in Shotton, Flintshire, where Jade Ward, 27, was found dead at her home on 26 August 2021
Judge Rowlands said it was a ‘sustained attack’ that, were she to have survived, Ms Ward would have been scarred for life. Pictured: Balloon release in memory of Jade Ward, 27
‘It was a cowardly and brutal assault against a defenceless woman against a much larger man she was desperately trying to get away from.’
Judge Rowlands said that the mum-of-four would have endured an ‘excruciating’ amount of pain in what is no doubt ‘an awful way for a young woman to lose her life’.
What Is Parental Responsibility?
- Parental Responsibility (PR) is a family law concept defined in the Children Act 1989 as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’
- Under PR, a parent can make certain decisions about the child’s upbringing, including: their religion, school, medical treatments, where they live, who they see and have status in legal situations such as care proceedings
- However, not all parents have PR
- A mother always has PR unless she ceases to be a mother
- A father married to the mother cannot lose parental responsibility
- A parent who is not married to the mother does not get PR automatically and has to acquire it
- Courts can make orders to give out parental responsibility
- Imprisonment does not automatically restrict parental responsibility, according to current UK legislation. This can only happen following a voluntary agreement or if a court order is made. Jade’s Law – if passed – would suspend these rights for the duration of any prison term
It was a ‘sustained attack’ that, were she to have survived, Ms Ward would have been scarred for life.
Karen said she wants Jade’s Law to be passed not just for her sake, but for the sake of other families in similar positions.
‘That creature is always lurking, and having to deal with it day to day is horrific,’ she said.
‘We are so stressed and on edge, and we want to stop families from going through the same thing in the future.’
Eddie Duggan, a close family friend of Karen’s who set up the petition, says he is confident Parliament will vote in favour of Jade’s Law when it is debated on September 12.
The petition has over 130,000 signatures.
He said the process to remove parental rights is ‘very long winded’ and ‘expensive’ and there have only ever been three cases where they have been stripped completely.
Eddie hopes that the wording of the bill – aiming to suspend the rights of any parent convicted of murdering the other parent for the duration of their sentence – will give it a higher chance of being written into law.
He said: ‘In Russell’s case, and other similar cases, this would effectively mean forever, as by the time he’s released his [children] will be adults and likely have families of their own.
‘We want to stress that the law would relate to both mothers and fathers who are convicted of murdering their other halves – not just fathers.’
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ‘Judges are required to put the welfare of children first and can effectively remove all rights and powers from a parent who had murdered the other.’
On the night of Jade’s death, 26 August, Marsh told his supervisor at his job as a power plant worker at Bio Energy in Ellesmere Port his brother had taken an overdose and needed to go to hospital.
But CCTV showed him travelling to Ms Ward’s home on Chevrons Road in Shotton, Flintshire.
A pathology report detailed how she suffered multiple wounds ‘across her body’, including her face and arms, while grip marks left her bruised and there was evidence of ‘defensive’ wounds sustained around the hands showing she had ‘made efforts to fight off’ her attacker.
Her final cause of death was asphyxiation, he said.
The court heard that Marsh and Ms Ward’s relationship was ‘on and off’ for over nine years but the mum-of-four worked up the courage to end the relationship ‘for good’ that summer.
Ms Ward ‘no longer loved him’ and Marsh ‘made her skin crawl’, the court was told.
He denied having any intent to kill or cause her serious harm.
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