THE brother of a North Yorkshire woman who was murdered by her partner has praised York's efforts to tackle domestic abuse.

Andrew Overton said it was a 'pleasure and an honour' to be at a Mansion House ceremony yesterday which confirmed York's status as a White Ribbon city.

The White Ribbon campaign aims to recognise cities which show a commitment to raising the profile and awareness of domestic abuse and violence against women and children.

Mr Overton's sister Rebecca Jane Kowal was murdered in May 2008 by Robert Byrom, 47, of Main Street, West Tanfield, Ripon, who was jailed for life the following year.

Mr Overton told Mansion House guests how he received a phone call in the early hours of May 8, 2008, from his mother, saying: "Andrew, it's Becca, she's dead, he's killed her!"

He said: "My 29-year-old sister, a beautiful, intelligent and vibrant girl had her life suddenly and cruelly taken away.

"Due to this male violent act, a mother had lost her precious daughter, an eight-year-old girl lost her adored mother, a father lost his one and only child, three brothers had lost their little sister - the list goes on."

He said there had been previous incidents and he had seen the signs but had believed what his sister had told him- "how the bruises had appeared" - but there was no point in blaming himself.

"This is my chance to say to everybody: open your eyes, violence against women is happening all around you. It can happen to anyone, your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your friends. We need to do something about it."

He urged people in York to challenge men who joked or bragged about violence against women, to teach males at a very young age that it was wrong to be violent against girls and women and to wear a White Ribbon badge with pride.

The Lord Mayor, Cllr Julie Gunnell, who was presented with the award by White Ribbon ambassador and former England rugby player Ikram Butt, said she was passionate about the need to tackle domestic abuse and was pleased she had been able to support efforts for York to win White Ribbon status during her year in office.