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First UK conviction for coercive behaviour for a female offender

View profile for Jackie Price
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Can a criminal conviction whilst under the age of 18 affect future job prospects or higher education?

Alex Skeel has been prevalent in the media recently after bravely speaking out after the horrific abuse he suffered at the hands of his ex-partner, Jordan Worth, the mother of his two children.

Alex had been stabbed, starved and scalded by his ex-partner and if it wasn’t for police intervention could have died. Alex has stated that he stayed with his ex-partner for so long as he was scared for the safety of his two children and didn’t want to lose any of his parental rights.

The couple met when they were in college in 2012. Alex states that his ex-partner became controlling relatively soon into the relationship. She would tell him what he could and couldn’t wear and attack him physically. During the last few months of the relationship Alex was the victim of multiple physical injuries which often required hospital treatment.

The abuse finally came to an end in June 2018. A neighbour heard shouting coming from the couple’s home and immediately called the police. The ambulance staff noted injuries to Alex’s hands and burns to his arms and legs which had been self-treated with cling film. It later came to light that Alex’s ex-partner had thrown boiling water over him, leaving him with second and third degree burns. Medics who checked Alex over said that he only had ten days to live, and that he was suffering from hydrocephalus – a build-up of fluid on the inside of the skull – caused by blunt blows to the head.

Alex’s ex-partner, Jordan plead guilty to grievous bodily harm and coercive behaviour. She was sentenced to seven and a half years. This prosecution is the first UK conviction for coercive behaviour for a female offender. Alex is using the publicity he has gained from his turmoil to raise awareness for victims of domestic abuse. Alex states that “you’re only going to get better if you talk about it.”

Proposed definition of domestic abuse

There are  many reasons why people feel that they cannot speak out about the abuse they are suffering. Domestic abuse is commonly misunderstood to only include physical abuse however the government is proposing to define domestic abuse as “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional forms of abuse.”

Domestic abuse remedies

One of the remedies for domestic abuse is to apply for a non-molestation order. You can apply for a non-molestation order if you have been a victim of domestic violence and you want to be protected from a current or ex-partner, a family member or someone you have either lived with or are currently living with. A non-molestation order prevents an abusive partner from being violent or threatening towards you or any children and can prevent intimidation, harassment and pestering so as to ensure the safety of yourself and your children. Breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence. Another available remedy in the family court is an occupation order. This order defines who can live in the family home. It can also prevent an abuser from being in the surrounding area. It is possible to get an occupation order if you have left the home due to the abuse and wish to return without the abuser living there.

Stephensons have a specialist team which deals with these types of orders and assists victims of domestic violence every day. Should you need assistance please contact us on 01616 966 229.

By Jackie Price, senior associate solicitor and Jack Challinor, graduate paralegal