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In the Booth with Ruth – Jackie Summerford, Mother of Bonnie Barratt Murdered at 24 Years Old in the Sex Trade

Jackie and Bonnie

How do you feel about the police?

At the time of my daughter’s murder case, I didn’t get on with them. I didn’t get on with the liaison officer because when he came to tell me about Bonnie, he was talking about Xiao Mei Guo, the lady who was selling counterfeit DVDs, and he tried to make Bonnie sound worse by talking about the other lady as if she was better, pure. We clashed there and then, after that one meeting.

How were you treated by the other police officers?

I didn’t meet the others until the actual court case. I think it was the sergeant of homicide who realised something was wrong. One of the officers always stayed outside with us, and he asked my daughter, Kelly, what was wrong with me. She explained to him that for the whole year we’d waited to go to court, the liaison officer had been rude. After that, the sergeant called me and asked me to go for a coffee upstairs. He explained that Kelly had said what went on and he said that I could put in a report or complaint. I said not to bother because what the other team had done in the last two weeks had really helped – they (the homicide team) bent over backwards for us. It was only that one officer, the liaison officer, but all the rest were decent. 

They didn’t prepare us for court though. They should always prepare you for court. I went to the Old Bailey, but I was not prepared to walk in there and see the diagrams of the crime scene. You’re shown pictures of the murder weapons and you’re not prepared for all this. Say you go to court on Monday and you’ve got this book to look through and you’re thinking what’s that, what’s that. I think you should be prepared for that before you go to court, but you don’t. You go in the deep end. You see the diagram of the rooms, or room. There was the kitchen with a blue dot with Xiao Mei Guo’s name and a red dot for Bonnie’s name. Where the red dots were, that was Bonnie’s blood, and the blue dots were Xiao’s blood.

Did you get support from any other agencies?

My other daughter’s son has a brain tumour, and in 2007, he was diagnosed. From March 2007, he was having chemotherapy. I’d usually stay at the hospital with him. Then one night when my grandson was asleep, one of the sisters, Claire, came in – the nurses knew me. I was crying and I told her what had happened. The next day, she saw the manager of the ward. The manager asked if I was all right – she was mad with the police. She said, “Have you had counselling?” They set up counselling for me and Kelly. In the meantime, she got on to the liaison officer and asked him, “Why haven’t you put in place counselling for this family?” She said, “Has he given you any leaflets or booklets?” I said, “No.” Two days after, the liaison officer came over to the house and brought these two books about death and support. He said, “Why I’ve not given you these is because you’ve not got a body.”   

Do you know how Bonnie and her friends who were in the sex trade felt about the police?

I never knew what Bonnie was doing; it wasn’t until she was murdered I found out. I think, from what the girls have said, she did get on okay with them. But they all hated the police. I think they are all the same in the way they don’t trust them, because at the end of the day they’d still nick them.

Did Bonnie have any dealings with the police?

I don’t know – she was living in East London and I was living in South London. I knew she was on a class-A drug, but she wouldn’t tell me anything. She’d just say, “Shut up.” She was on £300 of crack a day – that’s what the police said. She was known as a good clipper (a clipper is someone who takes the money with the intention of running away with it). They used to call her the baby; she was the youngest. She was tiny, but she wouldn’t take shit from anyone. 

Could you tell me if Bonnie had a crime, or crimes, committed against her before she was murdered? 

Three years before her murder, a client beat her up badly and left her for dead. I didn’t find out about this until after she was dead. By others’ accounts, she was in hospital for a few days. Her friend said, “Let me get in touch with your mum.” She said, “You don’t tell my mum nothing.” The police were involved in that for about six weeks, but she wouldn’t tell them anything.  

Do you know what would have held her back from reporting that violent crime against her to the police?

She didn’t feel she could tell the police because of what she was doing. Also, it would have gone in the papers and then I would found out what she was up to. 

Do you know if she reported that attack to another agency instead?

Maybe a support worker, but I don’t know. 

How do you think the police view people in the sex trade?

They definitely look at them in a different way. They look down on them as a waste of time and they think they are liars. The girls I talk to now, they have all turned their lives around, so I know this from when they’ve been talking about the past. There was good that came out of bad. They turned their lives round – a couple of them have had babies, the other four are on the straight and narrow, on methadone, but one of them has cancer now – that was Bonnie’s pal. When she used to get abscesses, she was treated horribly in the hospital.

Do you think the police take crimes committed against people in the sex trade seriously?

No they don’t, because they think most of the time they bring it on themselves by being working girls. By being working girls, they are looked upon as putting themselves in danger knowingly.

How do you think the police should deal with crimes against people in the sex trade? 

The police should offer the hand of support and show understanding and compassion to the victim. But to a working girl, it’s the opposite. There wouldn’t be that kindness. With another person, they’d be sympathetic, but with working girls, they’re not. They should treat everyone the same.

How do you feel the Merseyside model of treating crimes against sex workers as hate crimes would benefit people in the sex trade? 

Bonnie’s killer was a regular to all of them. He’d been rough with some of them and they’d stopped going to his flat. If there was the Merseyside model, he might have been reported to the police before. In May 2007, one of the girls was in his flat and from when she got in, she knew something was wrong with him; she didn’t feel right. She waited for him to go to the bathroom and she shot out of the street door. She never went back after.

There was about six of them. When they came out of the dock in court, one said, “You fucking no good bastard.” The judge never said a word. Three of them went behind a screen to testify against him, but the other three or four faced him.

He’d just come out of jail for rape three years previously. Preston wouldn’t have him back; that’s why he came to London. I always say, when you get life, it should mean life, not fifteen years or ten years. It should be life.

I still say there are more than these two. I don’t believe Xiao and Bonnie are the first two. I reckon if they hadn’t got him by 6 October, he was looking for number three. The police thought the same. To look at him, you wouldn’t believe he was that type. But look at Steve Wright. You wouldn’t have believed that of him. You wouldn’t believe it of any of them.

Would you like to see the Merseyside model rolled out across every police force within the UK?

Yes, I would, and globally too. Remember what happened in Ipswich, just before Bonnie. Why did they just do Merseyside? I’d like an answer to that.

  • Jackie Summerford’s video interview for the Merseyside model campaign can be viewed here.

Please support our petition on Change.org to make the Merseyside model the standard policing approach for the UK.

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About Ruth Jacobs (296 Articles)
Author of Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, a novel exposing the dark world and harsh reality of life as a drug addicted call girl. The main storyline is based loosely on events from my own life. In addition to fiction writing, I am also involved in journalism and broadcasting, primarily for human rights campaigning in the areas of sex workers' rights, anti-sexual exploitation and anti-human trafficking.

2 Comments on In the Booth with Ruth – Jackie Summerford, Mother of Bonnie Barratt Murdered at 24 Years Old in the Sex Trade

  1. Reblogged this on Soul Destruction and commented:

    “The police should offer the hand of support and show understanding and compassion to the victim. But to a working girl, it’s the opposite. There wouldn’t be that kindness. With another person, they’d be sympathetic, but with working girls, they’re not. They should treat everyone the same.” Jackie Summerford, mother of Bonnie Barratt who was murdered at 24 years old in the sex trade, speaks bravely about why the Merseyside model is needed UK wide.

  2. Carol Poole // April 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm // Reply

    Well said Jackie.
    Yes it’s true all people should be treated as equals and not judged. There are many reasons why young girls turn to this way of life and it’s not always by choice but desperation.

6 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The Merseyside Model Campaign – to make all crimes against people in prostitution/sex workers hate crimes UK wide | The Dock
  2. International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers – 17th December | Ruth Jacobs
  3. International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers – 17th December | Soul Destruction
  4. | Every sex worker deserves safety
  5. Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP: Make the Merseyside hate crime model of policing prostitution law UK wide | Ruth Jacobs
  6. Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP: Make the Merseyside hate crime model of policing prostitution law UK wide | Soul Destruction

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