A father has released a haunting letter written by his murdered daughter to her killer ex-boyfriend – which she never got chance to send.
Mother-of-one Clare Wood, 36, was strangled and set on fire at home by her violent and obsessive former lover George Appleton on February 2, 2009.
Police launched a nationwide manhunt before Appleton was found hanged in a derelict pub six days later.
Clare had repeatedly contacted Greater Manchester Police claiming Appleton had caused criminal damage, harassed, threatened to kill and sexually assaulted her in the months before her murder.
She had a panic alarm installed at her home after making an allegation of attempted rape against Appleton, who was arrested a week before her death for smashing down her front door.
Her father, Michael Brown campaigned for the introduction of Clare’s Law because he believed that her death could have been prevented if she had known about her partner’s violent past.
The law was introduced in 2014 and allows the police to disclose information about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.
Now, 10 years on from his daughter’s murder, Michael, of South Elmsall, West Yorks., has released a handwritten letter from her which revealed her hidden fears.
The letter had been discovered by former prison officer Michael in the back pages of an otherwise empty notebook while he was collecting her belongings.
The full letter reads: “There is no easy way to say this, but I don’t want to be with you, too much has happened.
“I am so unhappy, I am at the stage where I don’t even like you touching me and that feeling is never going to go
“You still scare me, and I can’t be with someone I am frightened of.
“Don’t contact me. That’s the way it needs to be. I need to get on with my life. If you have any feeling for me you will let me do this.
“Don’t use this as an excuse to go off the rails. Bear in mind you were lucky enough not to go to prison again and I did give you a chance and I had to do this by letter because you just won’t listen to me at all.
“I have told you before how I feel and you have chosen to ignore it hoping it will go away, it hasn’t.
“Each day I feel worse.
“I have to consider my daughter, also and after all you’ve done, I can’t have you back. It’s not fair on her and she knows I would never be happy with you. She can never trust you either.
“Take care, I mean it. Clare.”
Mr Brown can still recall the first time he met Appleton and how he took an instant dislike to him after his daughter had met him via Facebook in April 2008.
He added: “She told me she had met this lad, she sounded happy enough.
“They appeared out of nowhere one day at my house in Batley. I took an instant dislike to him.
“Unbeknown to me, they had just come from my son’s house and my son asked me what I thought of him and we both had the same opinion. We didn’t like him and want anything to do with him.
“When I found out he had done time in prison that made me curious. Claire said it was because of some motoring offences.
“Because of my job I couldn’t be seen to be reporting with ex-cons and I told her not to bring him back. She understood why I said it. I would still visit her and I was there fairly regularly.”
Clare ended her relationship with Appleton in October 2008 after she found out he had been texting other women.
He said: “I was chuffed to bits when I heard she had finished it.
“Clare came up to us for Christmas – two months before she met her fate – and said George Appleton was making a nuisance of himself. I told her to pack up her things and come back here.”
On February 5, 2009, Michael received a call from his ex-son-in-law stating he hadn’t heard from Clare.
He said: “It turned out that my daughter had been beaten, strangled and he had set her on fire and they had to use a cherry picker to get her out.”
In the months before her murder, Clare had repeatedly contacted Greater Manchester Police claiming Appleton had caused criminal damage, harassed, threatened to kill and sexually assaulted her.
“It turns out him being a ‘nuisance’ was actually attempted rape. He was pulled in and let out numerous times by police,” added Michael
“My daughter died because some ‘man’ couldn’t understand the word ‘no’.
“Clare didn’t get the protection that one would have expected. You don’t expect to be burying your own child or going to their funeral. That’s not the order of things.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded Clare had been let down by “individual and systemic” failures by Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
Michael said: “If I had the information I have now back then I would have marched her straight home.
“The last moments of my daughter’s life were her kicking and screaming trying to get away from Appleton.”