Controlling killer Joe Storey texted Kerri McAuley 19,000 times in seven months
- Credit: McAuley Family
Killer Joe Storey managed to control his girlfriend through a terrifying mix of charm and fear.
The serial abuser took over the life of Kerri McAuley a few weeks after they began dating in June 2015, before killing her in January 2017.
Shocking detail in the domestic homicide report into her death includes:
•In seven months in 2016, he called her 2,500 times and texted her 19,000 times
•He said he had a brain tumour when she tried to leave him
•Ms McAuley was helped by refuse collectors when she fled a vicious attack by Storey in a Rome hotel
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•The pair exchanged 223 texts on the day Storey faced trial for attacking Ms McAuley. She then did not show at court.
After meeting the mother-of-two, Storey showered her with gifts and she quickly fell for him.
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But she did not know that he was serving a two-year community order and subject to a restraining order following assaults on his previous partner.
In March and May 2016 Ms McAuley was assaulted by Storey but it was not until July 2016 that she made the first formal allegation against him, telling police she thought he had been trying to kill her during the 999 call.
In November 2016, despite a restraining order from July, the couple went to Rome but Ms McAuley was threatened and assaulted again by Storey.
She fled the hotel and was found by refuse collectors who got her a taxi to the airport.
Ms McAuley's friends, who were spoken to as part of the review, said she changed after she met Storey. One said: 'You could see in her eyes how sad she was, but she didn't want to burden people with her problems'.
Ms McAuley feared losing her children if she involved the authorities, and was keen to protect her mother, who was diagnosed with heart problems in October 2016.
At the end of October 2016, the night before Storey was due to appear in court charged with the July 2016 assault on Ms McAuley and while he was on bail, he took her to a 'swish' Norwich hotel.
The following day Storey appeared in court for his trial.
But Ms McAuley did not attend - seemingly swayed by a stream of texts urging her to 'stick to the story' that she could not remember what happened and it was not him who caused the injury.
•'Our last Christmas with Kerri'
It was a time of love, laughter and light that defied the dark shadow over Kerri McAuley's life.
But the joy of a family Christmas did not last, and within a few days Kerri was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend Joe Storey.
Today, her mum Lesley tells of the 'very special three weeks' spent when Kerri and her two sons moved into her Norwich home at the beginning of December 2016 after another beating from Storey.
Lesley, who lives with partner Tony Mitson-White, remembered the night before Christmas, saying: 'She had her arms around Tony. She just told him how much love and respect she had for him and about how she would always class him as her dad.'
On Christmas Day she said her daughter's boys were busy unwrapping presents when, in the background, their mummy said 'don't forget about me'.
Lesley said: 'Kerri was full of a love of life, a sociable, fun girl with a heart of gold, who was a loyal friend who touched the lives of so many people.
'Above all of her great qualities was her love for her children; she worshipped them and lived for them. They remember their mummy as awesome and everything. We were blessed to have had her in our lives.'
On December 30, Kerri moved back to her Southalls Way flat, determined to start afresh without Storey - Lesley said she 'didn't want her to go back but she said she would be fine'. But nine days later she was battered to death.
Lesley said her daughter had talked about moving on with her life and taking control again, having arrived at her mother's home a few weeks earlier after the latest beating by Storey.
She said: 'She was safe when she was here. He couldn't get to her when she was here.'
Just before Christmas, the family arranged for Storey to collect his things, and thought he had gone back to Dorset.
But Kerri did not tell her mum that she was out with him the night before her death. She said she called her daughter that night and got a call back minutes later to say she was out for a drink with a couple of friends.
Lesley said: 'She didn't tell me she was with him.'