A mother of four took her own life after she failed in her efforts to get her children out of care and received a 'Clare's Law' domestic violence disclosure about a partner.

Katie Madden, 32, had agreed for her children to live with her mother because she felt unable to look after them.

Despite making efforts to have them returned to her, social services deemed her too “inconsistent” for this to happen.  

An inquest into her death heard Miss Madden was found by a friend hanging at her home in Bonds Meadow, Lowestoft, just weeks later.

The hearing was also told Miss Madden had previously been the victim of sexual abuse, domestic violence and was in a "toxic relationship".

She had received a disclosure under Clare’s Law, which gives people the right to ask police if their partner has an abusive past, and shortly before her death had argued with the man covered by the disclosure.

At the end of the inquest, coroner Nigel Parsley said agencies could have done more to help Miss Madden and called for better support for those who receive a notification under Clare's Law.

Eastern Daily Press: Suffolk Coroner's CourtSuffolk Coroner's Court (Image: Newsquest)


The heartbreaking details of Miss Madden's case emerged at Ipswich Coroners Court, during a two-day hearing this week.

In a statement, her mother Bernadette Sutton described her daughter as "lovely, kind, caring and polite".

“She was a bright girl and she aspired to become a mental health nurse," Ms Sutton said.

“Katie did very well at primary school. She was excellent at maths and could have been a mathematician.”  

The court heard how Miss Madden had witnessed domestic violence as a child but overall her mother had “no concerns about her in her younger years”.  

This changed when her daughter turned 12.  

Eastern Daily Press: Lowestoft from the skyLowestoft from the sky (Image: Mike Page)

Ms Sutton added: “Katie had lots of friends at school up until the age of 12, which is when things started to change. It was like someone flipping a switch.

“She went from this bubbly girl to being really low in mood, sleeping a lot, and not wanting to engage with anyone. 

“I subsequently learned years later that she was abused at that age sexually.”

Eastern Daily Press: Lowestoft High StreetLowestoft High Street (Image: Newsquest)


By the age of 16, she moved out and it was agreed she would be under the care system where she lived with an older couple.  

In 2007, she finished school and became pregnant with her first child, aged 16.

Her mother added: “It was difficult to get the right support for her mental health.

Miss Madden went on to have another child in 2013.

Her mother added: “There was a pattern in Katie’s life where she chose bad partners.

"Every partner used her to have a roof over their heads and live off her.” 

In 2017, she met a new partner and “life seemed better”. They had two children together.  

But Ms Sutton went on: “The relationship was very toxic. He was violent and controlling and remained in Katie's life up until her death because Katie wanted him to have a relationship with his children.”

The court also heard that Miss Madden's sister, nanny, and aunt died within a short time period in 2020. "There were lots of significant losses for a brief period," Ms Sutton added. 



The hearing was told Miss Madden had been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and an "emotionally unstable personality disorder".

Mr Parsley, the coroner, said this made her act impulsively when faced with emotionally painful situations and stress.

He added: “Katie had previously received a Clare’s Law domestic violence disclosure and was known to be in a toxic relationship. 

“Katie had historically and recently been the victim of domestic violence. 

“Despite contact restrictions, Katie had argued with the subject of the domestic violence disclosure just prior to her death.

“Katie’s toxic relationship in conjunction with her known mental health conditions affected her state of mind and therefore contributed to her death.”



Ahead of issuing a Prevention of Future Deaths report, Mr Parsley highlighted several areas of concern.  

Firstly, he raised concerns about how Clare’s Law is considered when dealing with a vulnerable person. 

He said: “There has been no evidence that recipients of a Clare’s Law domestic violence disclosure are being treated as a higher risk, or of being of great vulnerability when action is being considered to remove their children or further toxic or coercive behaviour occurring.

“The state knew that Katie was at risk because they delivered a Clare's Law disclosure to her and yet throughout this inquest, I've barely seen it referenced.

“I’ve barely seen any professionals treat Katie as more vulnerable because she is in a toxic relationship, one in which we know domestic violence has already occurred.

“With someone with Katie's mental health issues, that is invariably going to make her more vulnerable.”  

Recording his conclusion, Mr Parsley said Miss Madden died by “suicide while the balance of her mind was disturbed.” 

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