Sentence limitations on coercive control charges may need to be reconsidered in the future, said the Women’s Aid executive director.
arah benson said each coercion case that makes it to the courts is “significant”.
The crime law came into force in January 2019, and the maximum penalty for coercive measures is five years.
This comes as Garda duty officer Paul Moody, 42, was jailed on Tuesday for three years and three months for bullying his former partner.
The court heard he had sent the woman, 43, over 30,000 messages over a four-year period and 652 messages over a 14-hour period in July 2018, the equivalent of one message every 90 seconds.
The messages were described in court as threatening, abhorrent and offensive.
Moody, of St Raphael’s Manor, Celbridge, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one charge of coercive control in relation to the woman within the state between 1 January 2019 and 30 November 2020 .
Ms Benson commended the victim’s “extraordinary resilience” and “courage” in pursuing the case and urged anyone who may be a victim of domestic violence to come forward and seek help.
“I think the litany of the abuse campaign that has been perpetrated against her is absolutely astounding to many,” she said.
“Unfortunately, in women’s welfare, through our direct services responding to victims, we sadly know what coercive control is and this is an incredibly acute case.
“We want anyone who finds themselves in a situation of coercive control, where they are often told they will not be believed, no matter who their abuser is, that we hope it is cases like these that give courage and encouragement to everyone , who experienced abuse, to reach out.”
Ms Benson said coercive control does not always involve physical or sexual abuse, although it can happen.
“Right now, any coercive control case that goes through the courts matters because it’s relatively new legislation that only came into force in 2019,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“Coercive control isn’t about a single incident, it’s about a pattern of behavior, it’s about a sustained, multi-faceted way of attacking someone to wear them down.
“I think that’s something we need to think about going forward, I think a case like this really makes us pause when you see that there’s been a relationship of four years, the vast majority of which has been through humiliation, humiliation and violence was justified and pain inflicted on the victim.
“And a sentence coming out of the limitations of the law of three years and three months, if we’re considering at any point if that’s a compulsory check that maybe should be considered, I think we need to think about that maybe.” .”
Ms Benson said when an abuser is in a position of power, it can have a “deterrent effect” on the victim.
“That could be someone in another position where there is the idea of someone feeling that they are not believed, that person is a pillar of society, but nowhere would that be more the case than where the perpetrator is a member of An Garda is Síochána because it is also about access to information,” she said.
“I have great confidence in the statements made by An Garda Síochána as they have responded so thoroughly and without hesitation to this report.”
Meanwhile, Women’s Aid welcomed new proposals that would require people accused of rape to show how they tried to get their accuser’s consent.
Attorney General Helen McEntee’s landmark law will strengthen consent laws, meaning rape suspects can no longer be drunk and believe they had consent at the time as a viable defense.
https://www.independent.ie/news/womens-aid-says-limits-on-sentencing-for-coercive-control-may-need-to-be-reconsidered-41871503.html According to Women’s Aid, the limits of conviction for coercive measures may need to be reconsidered