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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006, 18:18 GMT
Mother calls for stalker reforms
Tricia and Clare Bernal
Tricia and Clare Bernal had a close mother-daughter relationship
The mother of beauty consultant Clare Bernal, shot dead in Harvey Nichols by her ex-boyfriend, is calling for stalking to be taken more seriously.

Tricia Bernal, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent said her daughter was let down by the judicial system.

The killer, Michael Pech, was on bail awaiting sentence for harassment when he shot Clare, 22, then killed himself.

"I need to raise awareness, so people realise just how weak the system is to protect women," said Mrs Bernal.

I hope the inquiry will bring to light important lessons that the police and courts need to learn
Sandra Horley, Refuge

The inquest into Clare's death was adjourned in January to allow coroner Dr Paul Knapman to gather evidence from various authorities.

The Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Constitutional Affairs will be asked to explain alleged failures that allowed Pech to kill.

Mrs Bernal has said she hopes the inquest findings will protect future victims of stalkers and their families.

"I want to make sense of what happened - to make sure that something good can come of it. Clare deserves that."

Pech, a former security guard at Harvey Nichols, had threatened to kill Clare before he was charged.

National domestic violence charity Refuge is supporting Mrs Bernal's campaign.

"I hope that the coroner's inquiry will help to identify some of the key failings from this case," said chief executive Sandra Horley.

'Save lives'

"I hope the inquiry will bring to light important lessons that the police and courts need to learn.

"These lessons will save future lives and will prevent women from experiencing a similar fate to Clare's.

"Refuge would like to see mandatory and comprehensive training in how to identify the risks in domestic violence and stalking cases.

"Only when the courts and police understand the serious risk of domestic violence and stalking will women be better protected."

Ms Bernal is awaiting the coroner's findings but said she may call for an independent inquiry afterwards.

Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark said Ms Bernal had his full support.

"At this stage the important thing is that the inquest is a full one that gets the chance to look at the failings that led to this murder," he said.

"But if necessary I will be pressing for a full inquiry."

The inquest is due to reopen on 8 May.

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