A woman murdered by her boyfriend was “isolated” from family and friends in the weeks leading up to her death.

Ailish Walsh was 22 weeks pregnant when she was fatally stabbed more than 40 times by Liam Taylor in December 2022.

Her friend, Sabrina Shelley, has now said that more needs to be done to ensure that victims of domestic violence can access the support they need.

Sabrina first encountered Ailish, who had spent some of her childhood in London before moving to Ireland, when she returned to Waltham Forest in early 2021.   

She described Ailish as a “superstar” and said she was “just that girl that everyone clicked with and loved”.

Hackney Gazette: Sabrina Shelley first met Ailish in early 2021Sabrina Shelley first met Ailish in early 2021 (Image: Newsquest)

But, according to Sabrina, the 28-year-old suffered a blow when she was forced to find accommodation outside of the borough in the autumn of 2022.

Just weeks later Ailish was discovered covered in blood and unconscious by her own father at her new flat in Rectory Road, Hackney.

'She was isolated'

Ailish was on Waltham Forest's housing waiting list when she moved to Hackney.

The council told Newsquest that Ailish joined the list in May of that year and that currently the average wait time is five years.

Sabrina said: “The fact that Waltham Forest couldn’t house her, and she had to move out of the borough, I think that left her completely isolated from her family and her friends."

During Taylor’s trial, the Old Bailey heard that the 37-year-old had entered the communal entrance to Ailish’s building just after 8.30pm on December 15.

Five minutes before CCTV captured Taylor leaving at around 9.15pm, a friend of Ailish heard fighting and screaming over the phone.

Sabrina said: “I just feel that she was very isolated from family and friends.

“Even on the night none of us knew the address so no one would have been able to call the police when Ailish finally made that phone call.

“Only her father knew so it was her father who found her. It was difficult for everyone if I’m honest.”

Taylor was jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years for Ailish’s murder.

Hackney Gazette: Liam Taylor was jailed for life after a trail at the Old BaileyLiam Taylor was jailed for life after a trail at the Old Bailey (Image: Metropolitan Police)

During his trial, it was revealed that he had previous convictions for attacking female members of his family.

Taylor had previously been jailed for 12 months for assaulting his mother with a metal pole and cautioned for headbutting his sister when she was 16-years-old.

Sabrina said that while she does not blame anyone other than Taylor for Ailish’s death, she feels that “the system really failed her”.

Cllr Ahsan Khan, deputy leader of Waltham Forest Council said: “The murder of Ailish Walsh in Hackney at the hands of her partner was a shocking tragedy. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.

“As of October, there were just over 8,000 people on the housing waiting list with an average wait of five years.

"Ms Walsh joined the housing waiting list in May 2022 and unfortunately, we simply do not have enough homes available for everyone who comes to us in need of assistance.”

Vigil for Ailish

To mark the one year anniversary of Ailish’s death this year, Sabrina held a vigil in Walthamstow to raise money for domestic violence charities.

The vigil included decorating a Christmas tree in Ailish’s honour, where branches were hung with purple ribbons, baubles and feathers.

The purple ribbon is often adopted to remember and honour those who have lost their lives to domestic violence.

Sabrina said: “I wanted the anniversary of her death to be something positive rather than something negative.

“My main aim this year was to turn the anniversary into something special. She loved Christmas.

“We are decorating the tree on her behalf because it was one thing that she did and took so much time in doing and was so proud of her tree last year.

“I don’t think we could ever make it look as good as hers, but I want everyone to look at the tree and ask why it’s covered purple.”

Proceeds from the event – which included a raffle – will be donated to Solace Women’s Aid or The Women’s Decision Group.

Sabrina said: “The Women’s Decision Group don’t just support the victim, they also support the victim’s children and family.

“Because they are such a small charity and they don’t get funding, I thought they were a particular charity that was in need of raising funds.”

She added: “We don’t want Ailish's loss to go in vain and if we can try and save one person’s life this year that’s our aim.”

'The Table of Love and Loss'

Hackney Gazette: Ailish Walsh was one of more than 50 victims celebrated at 'The Table of Love and Loss'Ailish Walsh was one of more than 50 victims celebrated at 'The Table of Love and Loss' (Image: Newsquest)

Sabrina also attended an event at the start of December inside Newham Town Hall, where families and friends of murder victims gathered to tell their stories.

Organised by Ayse Hussein, whose cousin Jan Mustafa was murdered by a convicted sex offender, The Table of Love and Loss celebrated the lives of more than 50 people taken by violence.

Speaking after the event, Sabrina said: “I felt a relief that when you go there, you actually aren’t alone, and you talk to other families that are in the same situation as you are.

“Especially, domestic violence cases, there is a support network there and you are so appreciative that you are given that platform to raise awareness.

“Domestic violence is one of the unspoken crimes within communities, so Ayse to be able to do that event is absolutely amazing because it’s reached everyone via Facebook and in the media.”

Sabrina added that advertising the support available for domestic violence victims prominently in public spaces, such as in shopping centres or supermarkets could help to save lives.

She said: “Domestic violence is just not widely advertised, and I just think about how much prevention there could be if support was more widely available.

"We spent decades of leaving domestic violence awareness behind closed doors when really you need to have it out on the streets.”