Women’s Aid says coercive control may need to reconsider the extent of punishment

The chief executive of Women’s Aid has said that future coercive control charges may need to reflect limits on the level of punishment.

Ara Benson said that every case of coercive control that makes its way into the courts is “important.”

The law for the offense came into force in January 2019 and the maximum punishment for coercive control is five years.

It comes as serving Paul Moody, 42, was jailed Tuesday for three years and three months for his coercive control of his former partner.

The court heard that he sent the woman (43) over 30,000 messages over a period of four years, and over a 14-hour period, in July 2018, sent her 652 messages, the equivalent of one message every 90 seconds.

The messages were described in court as threatening, despicable and derogatory.

Moody, of St Raphael’s Manor, Selbridge, Cum Kildare, pleaded guilty in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of coercive control in relation to the woman within the state on dates between January 1, 2019 and November 30, 2020.

Ms Benson praised the victim’s “extraordinary resilience” and “courage” in pursuing the case and urged anyone who has been a victim of domestic abuse to contact and seek help.

“I think the litany of abuse campaigns against him is, to many, absolutely astonishing,” she said.

“Unfortunately for us at Women Aid through our direct services responding to victims we know what coercive control is and this is an incredibly serious matter.

“We would urge anyone who is in a position of coercive control, where often they will be told they will not be believed, no matter what their perpetrator, it is cases like this that we hope to give courage and Encourage reaching out to anyone who is experiencing abuse. out.”

Ms Benson said coercive control does not always include physical or sexual abuse, although it can.

“Every case is important at the moment with coercive control passing through the courts because this is a new law relatively speaking that it only started in 2019,” she told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

“Coercive control isn’t about a single event, it’s about a pattern of behavior, it’s about a persistent, multifaceted way of targeting someone in order to demean someone.

“I think it’s something that we might need to reflect on in the future, I think a case like this really gives us pause when you look at that four-year relationship, the vast majority of which decline, The humiliation was made through violence and pain against the victim.

“And a sentence resulting in the statute of limitations of three years and three months, whether at a certain point we consider whether it has coercive control that perhaps should be considered at the level of our sentence, I think it’s something like Which we probably need to reflect on.”

Ms Benson said if a perpetrator is in a position of power, it could have a “cooling effect” on the victim.

“He could be someone in some other situation where the idea that someone thinks they won’t be believed, this person is a pillar of society, but that would not happen anywhere where the perpetrator is a member of en garda. Siochana Because it’s also about access to information,” she said.

“I rely heavily on En Garda Ciochana’s statements from the fact that she responded to this report so thoroughly and without hesitation.”

Meanwhile, Women’s Aid welcomed new proposals that those accused of rape must show how they tried to get consent from their accuser.

Justice Minister Helen McEnty’s landmark legislation would strengthen consent laws, meaning rape accused would no longer be able to use being intoxicated and believe they had consent as a viable defense at the time.