Judge gives domestic violence warning

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Domestic violence “bullies” are no longer beyond the reach of justice if their victims refuse to press charges, a senior judge has warned.

Lord Justice Gillen declared: “No longer will the courts and the prosecution service be deflected by the fact that people are prevailed upon to withdraw their statements.”

The warning came as he refused bail to a Co Armagh man accused of carrying out repeated attacks.

Prosecution barrister Philip Henry revealed the woman withdrew her statement to police earlier this month.

He told the court: “She said she wants to have nothing more to do with the defendant, that it’s too stressful for her to go to court.

“She said she didn’t think it would be good for her mental health... but she doesn’t abandon her allegations within the statement.”

Mr Henry confirmed prosecutors were still to decide how to proceed with the case.

The accused had been out on bail, but was returned to custody after breaching conditions that he was not to contact the alleged victim or enter the town where she lives.

It was claimed that he went to her house and became involved in an incident where she was found lying in the street.

Defence counsel submitted that his client believed her withdrawal statement meant the case against him had ended.

But denying bail, Lord Justice Gillen stressed the seriousness of episodes of domestic violence.

“They are usually committed by males on females, they carry all the hallmarks of bullying, thuggish, demeaning behaviour against vulnerable women,” he said.

“There was a belief for some years by such miscreants that if they could prevail upon the vulnerable female to withdraw their statement that somehow charges would be dropped.

“That, of course, is no longer the position.”