13 July 2021

Man drives around Canberra punching ex in the head, threatens to kill her son

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Law Courts Photo: Michelle Kroll Region Media

A man who attacked his ex-partner was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence.

A man drove around Canberra repeatedly punching his partner in the head and threatening to kill her son when she tried to calm him down.

According to his ACT Supreme Court judgement, the chain of violence began in April 2020 when the man, aged in his late 30s, was at the Dickson home of the woman with whom he had a long-term on-and-off relationship.

After walking around the lounge room with a metal pole, he threatened her and slapped her in the head, then pulled her arm backwards, causing so much pain in her arm she had to be taken to hospital.

Next, he woke his partner when she was at home in May 2020 and started yelling: “We need to get out of here now. Get up. I’ll tell you later.”

After they started driving around Dickson, he began punching her in the head then left the city towards Sutton.

“[At] one point, he drove very fast towards a tree on the side of the road before quickly swerving to avoid a collision with it at the last moment,” Acting Justice Richard Refshauge said.

“It must have been a quite terrifying experience for the victim.”

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When they arrived at Sutton, he turned off onto a dirt road and stopped the car.

As she tried to calm him down, he smashed her phone and continued punching her in the head using both his fists while yelling: “It’s your fault. I can’t trust you.”

The man drove back to Canberra. He continued to punch her in the head, doing burnouts on their journey, then drove to his apartment “where he went in to collect a pipe to smoke methamphetamine and to clean the apartment up in anticipation of his housemate returning that night”, Justice Refshauge said.

To try and calm him down, the woman said she would pay for a night at a hotel with a spa, so they drove to Civic.

“Each time the car stopped at traffic lights, the woman wanted to get out of the car, but was too frightened of him catching her, especially as she had no phone to call for help,” Justice Refshauge said.

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When they arrived at a hotel, and she got out of the car to book the room, the man told her he would kill her son if she ran away.

“When later talking to the police, the victim explained that each time [he] had punched her, it was five to 10 times in quick succession,” Justice Refshauge said.

Police took photos of significant bruising on her forearm, hand and face, he said, and she was taken to hospital but did not need to be admitted for a long period.

The man, who worked in a government agency, was arrested on 27 May 2020, pleaded guilty to charges that included forcible confinement and assault. He spent 108 days in jail over those charges.

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Justice Refshauge noted the tragedies the man had experienced in his life, including being attacked by a dog that mauled his friend to death. He has post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

He also said the man was introduced to methamphetamine when he was 26 years old and soon after began using the drug every day.

Justice Refshauge sentenced him to three years and one month’s jail, suspended for a 12-month drug and alcohol treatment order. He was also sentenced to a 21-month good behaviour order that will end in October 2023.

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 is also available through The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, The Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline: 13 11 14. In an emergency call 000.

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