The appellant (R) appealed against his sentence of nine years’ imprisonment imposed following his conviction for 16 counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The victim was R’s wife (W). W had come to the UK from Mauritius before marrying R. She suffered numerous assaults at R’s hands between 2007 and 2014, which included throwing her to the floor while she was pregnant, causing her to miscarry, punching her, kicking her and hitting her with various implements including a chair. Eventually W was taken into protective custody. At trial, R denied the assaults, saying that he had caused none of her injuries and that W had caused some of them herself. He claimed that she had abused him, and that her primary motive was to obtain British citizenship. The jury rejected his defence. In sentencing, the judge said that it was one of the worst cases of domestic violence he had seen, emphasising that R had repeatedly attacked W, including when she was pregnant. He had denied responsibility and had tried to blame her at trial. The judge imposed a total sentence of nine years’ imprisonment.
R submitted that the nine-year sentence was manifestly excessive, that the judge had paid insufficient attention to his good character and had failed to take into account the principle of totality.
HELD: There was nothing to suggest that the judge had not considered R’s good character in prison. However, given that he had been convicted on all counts, he was not of good character but somebody who committed domestic violence. The sentencing guidelines were of limited assistance when W had been subject to such horrendous and sustained attacks, in particular when she had been pregnant. Each case depended on its own facts. R’s campaign of violence had spanned seven years and he had been convicted after trial so that W had been made to relive her experiences at R’s hands, and her veracity had been challenged, R. v McNaughten (Gary Stephen)  EWCA Crim 3479, Times, January 15, 2004 considered. She had been subject to sustained brutality, used as a means of humiliation and control, which had been witnessed by their child. Such actions merited a long sentence. Nine years was severe but not manifestly excessive.