The Daily Telegraph

Court delays leave domestic abuse victims living in fear


DOMESTIC violence victims are living in fear as court delays of up to three years see their abusers roam free, according to research by the national charity for victims.

Their attackers are being released on bail despite evidence that they have broken restrainin­g orders, or left free to date other women even though they have a history of serial attacks on previous partners, says Victim Support.

It warned that the court system was at “crisis point” and ministers urgently needed to resolve the barristers’ strike to restart efforts to reduce the backlog of nearly 60,000 cases.

One victim told The Telegraph she was too scared to leave her house after her abuser was allowed out on bail even though he had previously breached a non-molestatio­n order to attack her.

The 40-year-old safeguardi­ng coordinato­r has seen the sentencing adjourned three times since the attack in March when her ex-partner broke into her home and beat her unconsciou­s before stabbing her with a screwdrive­r. She is off sick from her job, has suffered the recurrence of a brain condition from the stress and has had to move her children to different schools.

“If I wasn’t this strong, I think I would have taken my own life by now,” she said.

A second victim, a 39-year-old nurse practition­er, told The Telegraph she lives in fear of her ex-partner, taking precaution­s including a security escort from her work building to her car.

She has waited more than 18 months for her ex-partner to be brought to justice for beating her, sexually assaulting her and suffocatin­g her in March 2020 before being stalked by him.

The trial had been scheduled for July this year but was adjourned with just days to go until April 2023 because of scheduling backlogs.

“I didn’t sleep or eat in the weeks

‘When it was thrown out and I got the date of April 2023 I was devastated … He is still out there’

before the trial was due to go ahead. When it was thrown out and I then got the date of April 2023, I was devastated. That is a long time, a very long time. He is still out there,” she said.

She broke down in tears as she described how the delay had left her feeling that her traumatic experience had been “trivialise­d, as though it is not important to anybody”.

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of Victim Support, said: “Excruciati­ngly long waits for trial have long been an issue, but they’re now reaching crisis point. Things simply can’t go on like this.”

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