A controlling boyfriend who bent his girlfriend’s fingers back and punched her in the face has been spared jail, after a judge told him to leave her alone as there are “plenty more fish in the sea”.

Alexander Heavens, 24, used Stacey Booth’s thumb to unlock her iPhone while she was sleeping to hack into her messages and see if she was dating other men.

Heavens then interrogated her during the night about the people she had been speaking to, leaving her sleep-deprived and struggling to cope at work.

During rows, he bit her on the arm, punched her in the face and bent her fingers back so far that she thought they would break, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Heavens, from Failsworth, Greater Manchester, admitted engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship and was handed a 12-month community order. A restraining order also prevents him from contacting Miss Booth.

He blamed his offending on excessive drinking and cocaine use, and Judge Martin Rudland agreed to defer his sentence for six months so he could get off the drink and drugs and hold down his job in the demolition industry.

During a hearing at Manchester Crown Court following the deferral, the judge told Heavens that “everyone deserves a second chance” and that he should put the relationship behind him because “there are lots more fishes in the sea”.

Judge Rudland told Heavens: “I don’t know what was going on in your life. Your relationship for some time had been good but it came crashing down in a rather dreadful way and I have no doubt the drinks and drugs played their part upon your behaviour towards her.

“However you have really made sound efforts to change that and I suspect you feel better for it.

“Everybody is entitled to a second chance and you have used the opportunity to show the court that you can make something of yourself. I set you that task to see whether you could do that.

“Rather than go back, you showed that you didn’t let the court down and you have shown you can adjust your lifestyle . If there is any further trouble you will be back before me, that’s the last thing I want and the last thing you want.

“Put this behind you, put her behind you, there are lots more fishes in the sea and watch how you go.”
The comment has attracted strong criticism from charities which support victims of domestic violence.

Adina Claire, Acting Co-Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “The judge’s sentencing remarks show a serious lack of understanding about the nature of coercive control.

“This is not a matter of perpetrators ‘adjust[ing their] lifestyle’. We know from our work with survivors that abusers often go on to control and abuse their next partner.

“Perpetrators of coercive control must be held to full account for their crimes and not told that ‘there are lots more fish in the sea’.”

Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge, said: “For too long, controlling and coercive behaviour has not been treated with the seriousness that it deserves.

“It is essential that the public understands that drink and drugs do not cause domestic violence.

“Responsibility for violence and abuse lies solely with the perpetrator who chooses to control and intimidate his victim.

“The future relationship prospects of an abuser are not the key issue here – survivor safety is.

“Even now, in 2019, around two women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. Coercive and controlling behaviour is a serious crime and needs to be treated as such.”
The court previously heard that Heavens and Miss Booth had dated for six years but their relationship soured in 2016 when he began to suffer bouts of paranoia due to cocaine use.

Prosecutor Rob Smith told the hearing that Heavens once “bit her and bruised her upper arm” during an argument about how much time she was spending with her family.

He said: “After 2017 his behaviour worsened with her, particularly when he alleged that she had been with other men. During arguments, he began bending her fingers back so far that she thought they were going to break.

“When she was asleep he would grab her finger and use it to unlock her phone as it had her fingerprint ID code. He used this to check her phone messages and go through her contacts.

“He would wake her up and ask who everyone was and keep her up all night. Her work became affected and she became sleep deprived.

“On one occasion she was going to sleep when he asked her a question about something on her phone, and when he didn’t get a reply he punched her in the face.

“She remembers being pushed to the kitchen floor, stood on and trampled on.

“In March 2017 she found messages suggesting he was seeing someone else. When he responded to her he began screeching at her, ran to the kitchen and he got hold of a knife and held it to his stomach.

“She tried to calm him down but he was continuing to shout at her so she decided to leave. She was worried he would use the knife on her or himself.”

Miss Booth ended the relationship in 2017.

She said in a statement that she tried to help Heavens with his problems but he “responded with abuse both physically and mentally” and she now realises their relationship “was not normal at all”.

After the hearing, she added: “The fact he’s been given a second chance is like they’ve let him get away with it. They’ve not made an example of him.”

She said it could discourage other victims of domestic abuse from seeking help.

Source: The Telegraph.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *