COUNTY NEWS: Man is first in Sussex to be convicted of coercive and controlling behaviour offence

Robert Conlon. Photo courtesy of Sussex Police. SUS-170524-101926001
Robert Conlon. Photo courtesy of Sussex Police. SUS-170524-101926001
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A man has become the first person in Sussex to be convicted of exercising coercive and controlling behaviour in a relationship, following an investigation by East Sussex Safeguarding detectives.

At Lewes Crown Court on Friday (May 19), Robert Conlon, of Willingdon Way, St Leonards, was sentenced to a total four-and-a-half years imprisonment having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing.

The 24-year-old refuse worker was given four years imprisonment for exercising coercive and controlling behaviour against his then partner. He received two further sentences – 16 months for causing actual bodily harm to her (to run concurrently to the four years), and six months for each of two offences of perverting the course of justice by contacting the victim while he was on remand in prison and trying to get her to withdraw her evidence (to run concurrently to each other but consecutively to the other offences) – giving a total of four-and-a-half years imprisonment.

He also received an indefinite Restraining Order which prohibits him from any contact with the 28-year-old woman, and with the investigating detective, and prohibits him from entering Sussex.

Detective Sergeant Steve Shimmons said: “Over 12 months Conlon engaged in controlling and coercive behaviour, telling the victim what she could and could not wear, who she could and could not see and generally controlling her daily life. He did this by using and threatening violence and it was clear this had a significant impact on her. He would contact her constantly to check where she was, who she was with and would follow her to and from her workplace.”

The couple had been in a relationship and living at her address in Hastings, which is not being disclosed, for more than year until last October when he was charged with the offences for which he was sentenced on May 19.

Detective Chief Inspector Ali Eaton said: “This case shows how such behaviour has a devastating and long-lasting impact on the lives of victims, who often don’t initially realise that it is a crime. The detectives in our East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit took time to really understand what was going on, supported her throughout the investigation, and built a strong case to show the extent of the offending by Conlon. The victim can now take back control of her own life.

“Since the new legislation which made coercive and controlling behaviour a specific domestic abuse-related crime in December 2015, 11 people in Sussex including Conlon have been charged under its provisions and a further 51 cases are currently under investigation. Meanwhile we continue to tackle domestic abuse through a variety of measures, including working with partners, safeguarding action, advice and ongoing support. We will also seek to prosecute wherever appropriate, working closely with the CPS as we did in this case.

“We recognise the effect that such abuse has on victims and we urge anyone who is suffering similar abuse to report it. You can contact us on 101 or through 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk and arrange to speak in confidence to experienced investigators.”

Further advice and sources of support are available via https://sussex.police.uk/advice/protect-yourself-and-others/domestic-abuse.

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