The family of N'Taya Elliott-Cleverley have today issued the following statement following the sentencing of Mohammed Diakite to 19 years in prison.
Many will think that today brings justice, closure, time to move forward.
In a legal sense, justice has been served. There will never be any justice for the torture N’Taya endured. We cannot close the door on the images and sounds of the terror she experienced. As a family, we can’t just move forward in a life that exists without N’Taya.
Time doesn’t just heal something so traumatic. N’Taya was not only violently tortured, we have learnt that she endured abuse prior to the final event. We will never know just how long this lasted and exactly everything she endured. We have spent the past 3 weeks hearing every single minute detail of all of the evidence gathered in her case. The 56 sites of injury, videos of her petrified, recordings of her final breaths by the man who caused them. There is no justice for N’Taya and for us as a family.
Throughout this trial some of us have heard for the first time that this was not a one-off event. I spoke to N’Taya every day and genuinely saw no signs. We are left with the guilt of not seeing behind N’Taya’s brave face and wondering why she didn’t confide in us. Did she not feel she could? Or did she do it to protect us, and to an extent him? We’ll never know.
Throughout this trial we have learnt that N’Taya did confide in some people. People may wonder why if they knew, why is she not here today? I am sure that those people did not think that the final result would be this. Things like this happen to someone else, not your person. But unfortunately this didn’t happen to someone else, it happened to N’Taya. Those people are likely to spend the rest of their lives wondering if they would have done things differently, would the outcome have been different? We’ll never know.
This brings me to the complexity of domestic violence as a whole. N’Taya was a young mum, in a violent relationship. That’s complex. I cannot speak for N’Taya herself, only what I imagine to be some things that may have ran through her mind. She loved her partner. She thought he was angry because he was unwell. She wanted a happy family. She wanted her daughter to grow up with her mummy and daddy. Things got out of hand. She rang the police. She reached out to people for advice when needed. Things would get better. “It’s not that bad”. But it was that bad. It was so bad that she would eventually go to bed and be so violently attacked that when she would struggle to get him off her she would not stand a chance. He would attack in her in multiple ways to make sure that she would never come back.
And I know that there will be some people listening to this who may be in a similar position, and a small bit of fear may run through them as they think “that could be me” but I also know that they will not truly be able to imagine it being them, because their situations different. Because its never got that far. Because their situation isn’t “that bad”. There will also be perpetrators who don’t see themselves in the same league, because their arguments/abuse has never been “that bad”. Because the abuse has never resulted in the death of their child, sibling, parent, cousin, friend, the issue isn’t “that bad”. N’Taya had had her happiest week in a while. She’d returned to work after maternity leave, her baby girl had started nursery, she was moving home that very day. Conversations with everyone normal and happy. And all of a sudden it was that bad. It was worse than bad. It was painful, and terrifying, and relentless and it took her away forever.
Please don’t hide this from people to protect them from worry, because you could leave them to endure a lifetime of pain without you and wishing with everything in them that you didn’t protect them, because they would have done everything in their power to protect you.
On behalf of my family, I would like to make clear that we stand with anybody suffering from genuine mental health problems. We do not discard the impact that conditions such as PTSD and depression have on people’s lives and we apologise to anybody who has felt personally attacked by his use of these conditions in a bid to get away with it. Mental health problems are real and work is still ongoing to lessen the stigma, but the killing of my sister was a purely evil act, with the blame lying solely on his hands, not on an illness.
I would also like to make clear that we stand with asylum seekers fleeing devastation who have the human right to feel safe. We ourselves are the proud descendants of hardworking migrants and believe that everybody deserves a fair chance at life. We apologise to any innocent asylum seeker who has felt personally attacked by his use of his background in an attempt to excuse his behaviour. The actions of this evil man lie solely on him, and we ask that a time where racial division is still heavily apparent, that people do not assume this man represents a whole group of people.
On behalf of N’Taya and my family, I would like to firstly thank with our whole hearts those individuals who did the best they could to try to save her life that night. Additionally, we thank any witnesses who came forward and continued communication to help with the investigation. I would like to express our greatest gratitude to Merseyside Police. Our family liaison officers Louise Parr and Leanne Rodgers have been with us throughout the whole journey from the very first day. They have explained the process, answered our questions, been shoulders to cry on, bore the brunt of our frustrations, and even provided humour at our darkest time. They have gone above and beyond and are exceptional individuals. The investigation team headed by Senior Investigating Officer DCI Speight left no stone unturned. The process was long for us as a family, and I would be lying if I said that throughout there weren’t times we were losing faith. But they truly done the most amazing job of piecing every small bit of information together to ensure this man got the right conviction. We are thankful to Angie Rowan, from the Crown Prosecution Service who supported our family throughout, answering, where possible to ensure the safety of the case, any questions we had and ensuring this man was prosecuted for his actions. We would like to thank Liverpool City Council Social Services, in particular social worker Lynsey Davies for keeping N’Taya’s little girl safe at her most vulnerable time, and for her utmost dedication throughout the process to ensure the right outcome for her. She will remain close to our heart. We thank The honourable Mr Justice Morris, for sitting as judge during this trial and ensuring legal justice was served. Last but by absolutely no means least , we express our gratitude to the prosecuting barristers Mr Grantt and Mr Unsworth QC. Mr Unsworth combined his unbelievable expertise with his genuine, personal approach to provide an impeccable case for my sister N’Taya. It has been so hard as a family to have the fate of this case completely out of our hands, but he fought tooth and nail as though N’Taya was his own and we could not have asked for more. We are indebted to all of these people forever.
N’Taya’s story is traumatic, and while we as a family continue to live with and navigate this trauma we want to at least ease one thing to be given back to N’Taya. She is more than what happened to her. N’Taya was the most hyperactive, hilarious, full of life baby girl. As a girl and teenager, she was shy to those on the outside but cheeky and mischievous to those on the inside. She well and truly had us up the wall with her rebellious bids for independence but to say she would speak her mind for those in need is a massive understatement. Anyone who knew N’Taya would tell you she just wanted to help everyone and anyone in need. As a young woman, N’Taya was independent, hardworking, the most dedicated working mum I ever did see. Every single second was dedicated to her little girl. Although my younger sister, she grew to be and remains my inspiration. N’Taya was brave, strong, fearless. Everything her little girl will grow up to be. N’Taya was and remains ours, we do not want the day to come where we have to accept life without her.