Judge slams ‘woeful’ sentencing powers in domestic abuse cases

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VIEWdigital asked solicitor Carla Fraser about calls for longer sentences for perpetrators of domestic violence and about the Workplace Charter on Domestic Violence which helps to support Women’s Aid.

Carla Fraser

Carla told us: District Judge Barney McElholm recently criticised the restricted sentencing powers for domestic violence cases in Northern Ireland as “woefully inadequate”.

His remarks followed his sentencing of a man who had assaulted and grabbed his former partner by the throat during a violent attack.

District Judge McElholm, who sentenced the defendant to five months imprisonment suspended for five years, said that he should have the powers to be able to issue longer sentences.

I work for the law firm Edwards and Co in Belfast and we frequently represent victims of domestic violence. We understand that victims often feel helpless and taking action against a perpetrator can seem like a huge step.

“At Edwards & Co we are proud to have attained the Workplace Charter on Domestic Violence. Developed by ONUS, a social economy business that gift aids its profits to Women’s Aid, the charter provides businesses with essential advice and practical training on how to help and support victims of domestic violence. (http://www.onustraining.co.uk/how-you-can-become-a-safe-place-organisation).

“By displaying the ‘Safe Place’ logo in our office, victims can be assured of a safe and secure environment where our solicitors can assist by discussing options available to victims of domestic violence confidentially and providing advice on the potential choices.”

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