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22 year-old becomes first woman convicted of coercive behaviour

A Fine Arts graduate has become the first woman to be convicted of ‘coercive control’ since the offence was created.

The 22 year, from Hertfordshire, was arrested days after her boyfriend was taken to hospital with extensive scalding injuries after she had thrown boiling water over him. Neighbours had reported regular disturbances, the sound of objects being thrown and shouting at the couple’s home in Bedfordshire. Her partner was seen on different occasions with black eyes, a limp and his arm in a sling, The Telegraph reports.

Neighbours reported hearing her boyfriend shouting “Get off me, you are hurting me!” and “Get off me, get off my head, don’t keep doing that to my head!”

Her boyfriend suffered from hydrocephalus, a condition causing an abnormal build-up of fluid in the brain, which left him physically vulnerable.

During the course of her trial at Luton Crown Court , it emerged that the aspiring teacher had also routinely belittled him, taken over his Facebook account and insisted that he only wear certain clothes, break off contact with friends and family and sleep in a separate bed for months at a time.

The Serious Crime Act 2015 made non-physical abuse of a partner – threats, intimidation, excessive interference – a potential crime for the first time. It came into force at the end of 2015, and the following April a 21 year-old man became one of the first in the UK to be convicted.

The Hertfordshire woman received a hefty seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to wounding with intent, grievous bodily harm with intent and controlling or coercive behaviour.

His Honour Judge Madge explained:

“She accepts that she has in the past, on a number of occasions, used blunt objects and implements to strike him and that he suffered injuries as a result of her doing so. She accepts using boiling or hot water to cause injury to him. She accepts that she has in the past used a knife to cause injury to her partner.”

The Court also imposed a restraining order forbidding her from contacting her ex-partner.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Mr T says:

    It’s such a shame. They really have absolutely no idea what they are doing the police.

    This has more to do with crimes against the person than controlling and coercive behaviour. They really do need help and training.

    Also, I hope, even though this clearly isn’t controlling & coercive behaviour, its just straight violence (which is all the police ever catch women doing!) that it will open the floodgates and finally make women realise they are equally as abusive as men, they just use these emotional methods as opposed to overt physical violence.

    When the police prosecute a woman for non-violent controlling and coercive behaviour then I will be happy. I have a prime example of loads of evidence if there is any force willing or rather knowledgeable enough to take it on.

  2. Spike Robinson says:

    Kind of a non story unfortunately re the new DV laws, because what she did would have gotten her jailed under the previous DV laws and just common assault laws. We’re not told how much of her sentence is down to the coercive control laws, but I doubt it’s much, if any. Most or all of the sentence will be for assault and “regular” DV offences.

  3. Helen Dudden says:

    Hard to believe this was a woman. How terrible for him, caught up in a situation he could not control.
    I wish him well for the future.

  4. Andrew says:

    “Hard to believe this was a woman.”


    Crime is equal-opps, although I know an exception. I once chaired a magistrates’ court where a defendant pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and driving while not in proper control of the vehicle. And I tell people that it could only be a woman driver. And when they take offence – which is the intention – out comes the punch-line.

    When she hit the van in front she was driving while breast-feeding!

    • Helen Dudden says:

      That was hardly in the same context.
      Speaking as a woman, this was a very aggressive campaign, for what ever the reason.

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