Could You Tell THESE Women That Men Who Beat Their Wives Should NOT Go to Jail, Mr Blair; OUTRAGE OVER PLANS TO GO SOFT ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The Mirror (London, England), March 14, 2006 | Go to article overview
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Could You Tell THESE Women That Men Who Beat Their Wives Should NOT Go to Jail, Mr Blair; OUTRAGE OVER PLANS TO GO SOFT ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE


Byline: By DAMIEN FLETCHER and JULIE McCAFFREY

THESE battered women yesterday furiously slammed plans to keep the men who attacked them out of prison.

The Sentencing Guidelines Council says the brutes could instead go on courses which "challenge their attitudes towards women".

But the idea from the Council, set up by Prime Minister Tony Blair to advise judges on sentences, has caused widespread outrage.

Claire Overton, 23, repeatedly slashed across the face by her husband, said: "It's tantamount to saying domestic abuse isn't really that important. It's a bullies' charter."

Amanda Hainsworth, 45, headbutted and punched by her boyfriend, said: "These punishments leave me disgusted and give abused women little hope of justice."

Bridget L'Anson, 35, whose cheating lover broke her nose, said: "His sentence was a joke. I feel so let down by the justice system as it stands already."

Marie Black nearly died at the hands of her attacker. She said: "Lighter sentences are an insult to women everywhere."

Rapists' jail sentences could also be cut by up to 15 per cent because jail is said to be tougher. Home Secretary Charles Clarke hopes the proposals will encourage more women to report rape and violence.

Two wives are killed by their current or ex-partners every week in England and Wales. And police get a call a minute from abuse victims.

One in four women will fall victim to domestic violence at some time in their lives.

Teresa Parker, of Women's Aid, said of the SGC's ideas: "They are utterly ludicrous - and very upsetting. We've had calls from women who are absolutely devastated at the news.

"Some were in tears, desperately trying to find out whether the men who beat them would be let out of prison to be sent on a course. Many women have contacted us asking if there was anything they could do to stop that happening."

Sandra Horley, of Refuge, said: "Refuge is horrified that after 35 years of campaigning for the government and criminal justice system to take rape and domestic violence seriously that such proposals have been put forward.

"The idea that sending domestic violence perpetrators on courses an alternative to custody is ludicrous and by doing so lives of women will be put at risk. It trivialises domestic violence."

CATHERINE'S STORY

FORMER model Catherine Fleming, 48, was so savagely attacked that she needed surgery.

The widowed mother-of-two was beaten and left unconscious by Angus Cullen and woke up in hospital with a policeman standing over her bed.

Cullen, of Drumchapel, Glasgow, was jailed for three months but was let out after six weeks.

Catherine, from Clydebank in the city, said of her ordeal: "It was blow after blow after blow.

"I feel let down. He's in the wrong but still walked back into his old life. He's not paid for what he did.

"These men should be condemned and exposed. They mustn't get away with this any more."

SHARON'S STORY

EX-BOYFRIEND Craig Sylvester, 37, systematically beat and humiliated Sharon Clegg.

He was released from prison after serving just eight months of a 16-month sentence for the terrifying and violent attacks.

Sharon, 38, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, was left traumatised by her experience.

She said: "He was drunk the first time he hit me.

"I can't remember what we'd rowed about but it left me with two black eyes.

"He cried afterwards and begged for forgiveness. He made me feel that I couldn't live without him by telling me no one else would want me if we finished.

"To this day, I can't explain why I didn't leave him."

CLAIRE'S STORY

CLAIRE Overton had been married for two years when husband David slashed her face seven times.

As blood pumped on to her duvet, she feared her throat was cut and she would die.

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Could You Tell THESE Women That Men Who Beat Their Wives Should NOT Go to Jail, Mr Blair; OUTRAGE OVER PLANS TO GO SOFT ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
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