Judge Tells Man Convicted Of Coercive Control There Are 'Plenty More Fish In The Sea'
A boyfriend who punched his girlfriend in the face and used her fingerprint to access her phone, was spared jail and told by a judge "there are lots more fishes [sic.] in the sea".
Twenty-four-year-old Alexander Heavens was found guilty of coercive control at Manchester Crown Court after a jury heard how he had bitten his girlfriend on the arm, punched her in the face and bent her fingers back so far she thought they would break during jealous rows.
His ex-girlfriend, Stacey Booth, testified that Heavens would use her thumb to unlock her iPhone while she was asleep in order to hack into her messages and see if she was being unfaithful.
This would lead to interrogations in the middle of the night that would leave Stacey sleep-deprived and struggling at work.
After Heavens admitted to engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship, Judge Martin Rudland spared him prison but handed him a 12-month community order, which the judge decided to defer so Heavens could get off the drink and drugs (something he blamed his behaviour on) and hold down his job in the demolition industry.
Judge Rudland concluded by telling Heavens: "Put this behind you, put her behind you, there are lots more fishes [sic.] in the sea and watch how you go."
Understandably, this phrasing has been met with backlash from women's charities and online, with some arguing it legitimises domestic abuse.
How can we expect women to report abuse, harassment or assault of any kind when these flippant remarks are thrown around in the courtroom? https://t.co/MlLjDic2fB
- Thea de Gallier (@theadegallier) May 8, 2019
"Put this behind you, put her behind you, there are lots more fishes in the sea." This is how far we still have to go. I hope those "fishes" swim like crazy in the other direction. @ScottishFemJP https://t.co/wOGUsg4ATV
- Dani Garavelli (@DaniGaravelli1) May 7, 2019
Plenty of fish left in the sea? What, so he can punch them in the face? https://t.co/irEIvS5j87
- Helena Horton (@horton_official) May 7, 2019
He bit, punched and abused his girlfriend.
The judge told him to 'put her behind him' because there are 'plenty more fish in the sea'.
And people wonder why violence against women is out of control
- Dr Louise Raw (@LouiseRawAuthor) May 7, 2019
The judge's sentencing remarks show a serious lack of understanding about the nature of coercive control. We know from our work with survivors that abusers often go on to control and abuse their next partner. Coercive control must be taken seriously. https://t.co/2mfzLAmvt2
- Women's Aid (@womensaid) May 7, 2019
When the judge tells you there's plenty more fish in the sea but you're a domestic abuser. pic.twitter.com/TwUO05JekW
- Lauren Aitchison (@devilwrstartan) May 8, 2019
This Judge almost legitimised and justified #domesticviolence
This is crazy. I think the press was right to say judges are the enemy of people
Judge tells boyfriend convicted of coercive control there are 'plenty more fish in the sea' https://t.co/GPMYF1EAr2
- Sam Perera (@SamPerera20) May 8, 2019
Women's Aid have said that the judge's sentencing remarks "show a serious lack of understanding about the nature of coercive control."
They explain, "We know from our work with survivors that abusers often go on to control and abuse their next partner," adding: "Coercive control must be taken seriously."
Other Twitter users have agreed, with one saying: "Plenty of fish left in the sea? What, so he can punch them in the face?"
Another user pointed out that instances like this could deter women from reporting domestic abuse: "How can we expect women to report abuse, harassment or assault of any kind when these flippant remarks are thrown around in the courtroom?"
One more comment said: "And people wonder why violence against women is out of control."
Pretty 52 has contacted Manchester Crown Court for comment.
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