CONTENT WARNING: This article is about domestic violence.
A magistrate wanted to “completely disavow” the outdated notion that it is up to a woman to leave an abusive relationship when handing a man years in jail for committing what she said was such brutal, cowardly and inexcusable conduct.
Jamie Damien Millard was sentenced to almost four years and 10 months’ jail in the ACT Magistrates Court for choking and assaulting his former partner, Bree Myers, along with unrelated driving charges.
“This was conduct designed to communicate to the victim that the defendant held her life literally in his hands,” Magistrate Louise Taylor said on Monday (26 September).
She described the assaults as brutal violence aimed at controlling and subjugating, adding that Ms Myers endured “almost complete paralysis in the face of his controlling behaviour”.
When referring to how he abused Ms Myers in the presence of their children, she remarked how “even little eyes on him did not deter him”.
Millard originally fought the charges, but pleaded guilty on the third day of their Magistrate Court hearing.
When his lawyer Darryl Perkins cross-examined Ms Myers in the hearing, he asked her why she hadn’t left the relationship earlier than she did, which she told him was a “ridiculous question”.
On Monday, Magistrate Taylor said the community had evolved beyond the stereotypical view of family violence and remarked how victims often perceived the risks they faced would elevate if they tried to leave an abusive relationship.
“The community speaks with one voice when it condemns family violence,” she said.
She said the 41-year-old used direct and coercive control over Ms Myers, including monitoring the use of her phone, when she could leave their house in Dunlop and what clothes she could wear.
He used surveillance cameras to watch her movements around the home and erected nine-foot high fences around the property to prevent access to and from it.
In February 2018, Ms Myers was holding their 11-month-old child in their kitchen when he grabbed her by her neck and pulled her upwards onto her toes for 20 to 30 seconds, preventing her from breathing. While he did this, he mashed his fist into her cheek.
She had swelling to her neck and tongue and eventually went to hospital. Millard took her there and told her to tell staff she got the injuries from dropping a 5 kg weight on her neck at the gym, which she did.
But he also demanded they leave soon after they arrived so she didn’t get any medical treatment. She suffered pain from her injuries for six weeks.
In April 2018, Millard accused her of cheating on him and grabbed her by her neck for about 15 seconds, stopping her breathing.
Ms Myers was holding their child, while her six-year-old son also saw what happened, making him cry. Later, Millard closed a door on Ms Myers’ finger, making her fingernail come off.
Lastly, in March 2019, Millard told Ms Myers he’d been outside their home listening to her meet another man and ran through their house looking for someone, even though no one else was there.
He pushed her against the pantry, causing her tooth to puncture her lip, and covered her mouth with his hand before pushing her into the pantry door, all while she was holding their child.
Ms Myers has already described how she faced a “calculated nightmare of life or death”, and after the sentencing, she told the Riotact she felt she was heard by Magistrate Taylor.
“I don’t feel it is enough, only because he robbed me of everything and my injuries and fear are here forever. My life will never be what it was because of him,” she said.
“I feel Magistrate Taylor really understood my fear and the dangers I face. I’ll never be totally safe and I’ll never not be scared of him and what he’ll possibly do when he gets out.
“He almost killed me. I’ll forever fear he still will, but for now, I’ll start to learn how to function normally now this worst part of my life has been finalised.
“I just hope other women can get the protection we need.”
Millard was also sentenced for the breach of a suspended sentence for a common assault in which the victim was also Ms Myers.
His total sentence ends in January 2027, but he was given a non-parole period of three years and three months which means he is eligible to be released in June 2025.
If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT on 6280 0900 and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.