This ter­ri­fied girl­friend made a se­cret record­ing of her boyfriend’s vi­o­lent out­burst - and now he’s be­hind bars

Wales On Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - WILL HAY­WARD Re­porter will.hay­ward@waleson­ Atal y Fro can be con­tacted at www.atalyfro.word­

ACOURAGEOUS do­mes­tic abuse sur­vivor has shared a har­row­ing clip of her vi­o­lent boyfriend threat­en­ing to be­head her and bury her body in a gar­den.

The dis­tress­ing 36-minute au­dio record­ing, in which bru­tal Wil­liam Mor­ton can be heard to spit at and slap Jodie Tague, was vi­tal ev­i­dence in se­cur­ing a con­vic­tion fol­low­ing months of abuse.

The 30-year-old golf club worker can be heard threat­en­ing to “rip [her] throat out” be­fore chill­ingly adding: “You could bleed to death Jo.”

Mor­ton be­came one of the first peo­ple in Wales ever to be con­victed of con­trol­ling or co­er­cive be­hav­iour after business owner Jodie bravely went to the po­lice to report him.

The new law was in­tro­duced in 2015 and in­volves a per­son re­peat­edly be­hav­ing in a way mak­ing some­one they are closely con­nected with feel con­trolled, de­pen­dent, iso­lated or scared.

It can be hard to achieve con­vic­tions be­cause it of­ten hap­pens be­hind closed doors.

Fear­ing for her life Jodie, also 30, se­cretly built up ev­i­dence of the abuse which even­tu­ally led to Mor­ton re­ceiv­ing a jail term.

She has spo­ken out to let other peo­ple in her po­si­tion know there is a way out. She also wants peo­ple in au­thor­ity to know the warn­ing signs and be able to spot them and help women in need.

Jodie, who has run her own gift shop for al­most a decade, first met Mor­ton in March last year sev­eral months after the pair be­gan chat­ting through Tin­der.

Hav­ing taken part in a work­shop to spot abuse at do­mes­tic vi­o­lence char­ity Atal y Fro, Jodie spot­ted the warn­ing signs.

She said: “He would drink more or less ev­ery night.

“He was con­trol­ling with my friends, es­pe­cially the male ones – he would not like me talk­ing to them. He would mes­sage me ask­ing why I was talk­ing to some­one – it might just be a text from a de­liv­ery driver.

“I had to stop talk­ing to cer­tain peo­ple.

“When that hap­pened I stood my ground at the start. I would say that they were my friends and ‘I wouldn’t be with you if I wanted to be with some­one else.’

“There was noth­ing go­ing on but in his head.

“I don’t know how he thought I had the time be­cause I was work­ing 24/7.”

At one point Jodie, of Barry, used her phone to se­cretly record abuse tak­ing place.

“I had gone out for my friend’s birth­day – it was a fam­ily meal type of thing. I had only had two Diet Cokes – it wasn’t a big party.

“I came back and he had ob­vi­ously been drink­ing. I could tell he was ag­i­tated straight away. He was on edge.

“I said I was go­ing to go out and let him calm down. He had me up against the wall in the hall­way by the throat. And I man­aged to get out and take my dog be­cause I didn’t want to leave it with him.

“He texted me say­ing that he had calmed down now so I went back.”

Jodie did not feel like she could go to the po­lice be­cause it would have been her word against his. De­spite re­turn­ing to the house in Barry she wanted to pro­tect her­self.

She said: “I left the dog in the car be­cause I knew what it could be like. I could see the signs but I couldn’t just stay out all night.

“I had to go back at some point, I didn’t want to go to the po­lice be­cause I would have had noth­ing to show.

“Be­fore I went back in I put my phone in my pocket and put it on the voice recorder. I thought that if he had calmed down like he said I could just turn it off, get the dog in and go to bed.

“I wouldn’t say any­thing be­cause it was go­ing to trig­ger him to kick off.

“But he hadn’t calmed down. I had it in my pocket. You wouldn’t know it was there – you can have the screen locked.”

What fol­lowed was a truly hor­rific 36 min­utes where Mor­ton can be heard forc­ing her to sit in a chair in the liv­ing room. He spat on her as well as re­peat­edly hit­ting her.

“I just couldn’t move,” she said. “I kept telling him to stop hit­ting me.

“He was get­ting up­set at him­self and was cry­ing but he just car­ried on.

“I told him to stop be­cause I was bleed­ing from the mouth. He just said ‘I am go­ing to make you bleed more’ and ‘I am go­ing to bury you’.”

The record­ing, and Jodie’s courage in ob­tain­ing it, proved de­ci­sive when the case came to court.

“He was good at put­ting on a face to ev­ery­one else,” she said.

“You lis­ten to that and he was dif­fer­ent to how oth­ers would see him.

“To hear it is to­tally dif­fer­ent. I could say that he said he was go­ing to chop my head off and bury me but to hear some­one say that is very scary.

“In my head I was think­ing that I have that record­ing and if some­one finds my phone they will know what hap­pened to me.

“I don’t know why it popped into my head to do it. I knew I had to pro­tect my­self. It was my wit­ness. If I didn’t make it out alive I had some­thing.”

Dur­ing the hor­ri­fy­ing record­ing Jodie can be heard plead­ing with heart­less Mor­ton: “Stop hit­ting me.”

He replied: “Hit you. I will f****** hit you. I will f****** hit you in your f****** head.

“I will f****** bury you – is that what you want?

“I am the f****** vic­tim. I am the f****** vic­tim here.”

He added: “As far as I am con­cerned I could f****** rip your throat out. You could bleed to death Jo.

“It is your f****** fault – you don’t know how you make me feel.”

Through tears Jodie told her then boyfriend to stop slap­ping her, adding: “You can’t treat me like this.”

But vin­dic­tive Mor­ton, who worked at Llan­ishen Golf Club, told her: “I’m go­ing to bury you tonight – in the f****** gar­den, I’m bury­ing you.”

The record­ing picks up an au­di­ble slap and a scream be­fore Mor­ton con­tin­ues: “Look at my eyes. I’ll f****** bury you.

“I’ll f****** cut your throat and I’ll f****** cut your head off and I’ll put you in that f****** garage.

“You think I’m mess­ing. You shut up and lis­ten to me. This is the only way.”

Other in­ci­dents in­cluded him chasing her with a knife, grab­bing her by the throat in Tesco, kick­ing her in the back be­cause her dog uri­nated when scared by fire­works, and drop­ping her re­peat­edly on the floor when

she was preg­nant with his child.

“The in­ci­dent with the knife pet­ri­fied me,” she said.

“We had a dis­agree­ment when he was in­tox­i­cated and chased me with a kitchen knife.

“I ran up­stairs as fast as I could into a box room I call the dress­ing room.

“I couldn’t lock the door – I was so, so scared.

“I fell to the floor and started shak­ing and cry­ing. I thought I was go­ing to die – I thought this was how it ends.

“After what seemed like a life­time he put the knife down laugh­ing be­fore com­ing over to com­fort me.”

Through­out all these or­deals Jodie was keep­ing records.

She said: “He said that I shouldn’t go to the po­lice and he said that they wouldn’t be­lieve me and do any­thing about it. He said there wasn’t enough ev­i­dence.

“I started tak­ing pic­tures of bruis­ing and hand­prints on my arms. I would take pho­tos and save them onto my work phone be­cause I knew he was go­ing through my per­sonal phone. I trans­ferred them over so I had the ev­i­dence.”

Late last year Jodie ended the re­la­tion­ship but on find­ing out she was preg­nant de­cided to give the re­la­tion­ship an­other chance for the sake of their un­born baby.

She said: “I found out I was preg­nant and told him on a Fri­day night. He just left and didn’t come home un­til the Sun­day night.

“He went out drink­ing and didn’t come back. That was his re­ac­tion to be­ing told he was hav­ing a baby.

“After we sat down we spoke and said we had to make it work as we are hav­ing a baby.

“I said to him that I couldn’t make this work un­less he got help.”

His be­hav­iour did not change and it all came to a head when Jodie went for a preg­nancy scan. Dur­ing the preg­nancy she had lost 2.5 stone in weight due to stress.

“I was un­der a con­sul­tant be­cause I was high risk,” she said, re­veal­ing she had also been through a can­cer scare dur­ing her or­deal.

“I broke down and started cry­ing when the con­sul­tant came in. I blurted ev­ery­thing out to her. I said I couldn’t put up with it any more.

“She was re­ally help­ful. There was no rush – she just was pa­tient. She un­der­stood and was re­ally good.

“The mid­wife saw me after and ap­par­ently they had done a train­ing the week be­fore on what to do if a woman comes in like me.

“The mid­wife said that if I was strong enough that I should go to the po­lice sta­tion on my way home. I ac­tu­ally did. I left the hos­pi­tal and went straight to Barry po­lice sta­tion.

“I thought that if I don’t do it now I am not go­ing to.

“I got there at half one and saw the of­fi­cer.

“I didn’t fin­ish my state­ment till half eight at night.

“I started play­ing the record­ing and I said, ‘I can’t lis­ten to it again.’ He lis­tened when I wasn’t there.

“They told me that if [Mor­ton] turned up at the house I should ring 999.

“I said: ‘I can’t ring 999 – they are for life-or-death sit­u­a­tions.’

“He tried to get in that night and I rang them straight away and they were amaz­ing on the phone.

“It came up with my notes that if I ring they have to send some­one straight away. The of­fi­cer that did my state­ment was the first one there.”

Mor­ton was ar­rested in March this year.

He ad­mit­ted a charge of con­trol­ling or co­er­cive be­hav­iour at Cardiff Crown Court and a pre-sen­tence report judged him to present a medium risk of caus­ing harm to the pub­lic, es­pe­cially fu­ture part­ners.

Mor­ton was jailed for nine months and an in­def­i­nite re­strain­ing or­der was im­posed.

Judge Thomas Crowther QC told him: “It does not seem to me there is any real re­morse here – your sole re­gret is that she re­ported you.”

Jodie, who went on to give birth to a healthy baby, paid trib­ute to the po­lice of­fi­cers who helped bring Mor­ton to jus­tice and of­fered her ad­vice to women find­ing them­selves in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships. “The of­fi­cer that took my state­ment, I can’t thank him enough,” she said.

“He didn’t rush me. He went through step by step.

“They helped me feel I can go and get the sup­port I need.

“To other women I would say keep as much ev­i­dence as you can.

“Print it, hide it, put it on a dif­fer­ent phone. You can be be­lieved.

“The record­ing was the main part of my ev­i­dence. Give them to some­one you trust.

“Go to the po­lice. They don’t have to act then and there but can keep the ev­i­dence for you.”

Ap­peal­ing di­rectly to oth­ers find­ing them­selves in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, Jodie added: “I am on my own here with fam­ily that live in Durham and abroad whilst also go­ing through a tough time with a can­cer scare and still on­go­ing tests.

“Stand­ing up in court a week after hav­ing my baby, and run­ning my own business, it’s not been easy but if I can do it and I’m still stand­ing, so can you. “Don’t give in. Be strong.” South Wales Po­lice lo­cal polic­ing in­spec­tor for Barry, Paul Tin­kler, said: “Pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple is South Wales Po­lice’s num­ber one pri­or­ity and the force has in­vested in spe­cial­ist train­ing, in part­ner­ship with Welsh Women’s Aid, to en­sure our front­line of­fi­cers and staff are able to iden­tify co­er­cive and con­trol­ling be­hav­iour in or­der to in­ter­vene at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity.

“I’d en­cour­age any­one ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this form of abuse to come for­ward with the con­fi­dence that we will take their report se­ri­ously and that they will re­ceive the very best sup­port from us and part­ner agen­cies.

“I’d like to com­mend the courage of Jodie in not only find­ing the strength to report her then-part­ner but for also hav­ing the fore­sight dur­ing what would have been a very dif­fi­cult and fright­en­ing time to keep notes of ev­ery­thing she was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

“There is no doubt these de­tails proved in­stru­men­tal in help­ing to con­vict Wil­liam Mor­ton.

“I’d also like to praise the work of my of­fi­cers for the pro­fes­sional and com­pas­sion­ate man­ner in which they car­ried out the investigation, which again helped en­sure a vi­o­lent and abu­sive man was dealt with by the courts in the most ef­fec­tive way.”

Jodie has re­ceived sup­port from Atal y Fro, a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence char­ity.

A spokes­woman for the char­ity said: “Atal y Fro pro­vides a wide range of spe­cial­ist ser­vices aimed at help­ing women and their fam­i­lies as well as in­di­vid­u­als of any gen­der (in­clud­ing their part­ners) where ap­pro­pri­ate, to break the si­lence on do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“We have refuge for women and their chil­dren, a spe­cial­ist refuge ser­vice for any gen­der with a ‘wrap­around’ pack­age of sup­port pro­grammes.”

Jodie Tague, of Barry, who was the vic­tim in the first ever co­er­cive case in Wales

Wil­liam Mor­ton, 30, from Barry, ad­mit­ted con­trol­ling or co­er­cive be­hav­iour


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