The 14 year and three month sentencing of a former Olympian reflects the seriousness of his offending against two different partners.
While it is good that the offender was charged, convicted and received a long sentence of imprisonment, we as a society need to do a better job of intervening when domestic abuse is happening before victims experience extreme violence.
The man, who has name suppression to protect the identity of the victims, appeared in the High Court last week and was found guilty of six charges - three of sexual violation by rape, one of sexual violation by unlawful connection and two of violence, referred to incidents involving two former partners.
The women abused by the offending said he has caused ongoing problems, making them frightened, affecting their self-esteem and their relationships with loved ones.
According to Jill Proudfoot, Shine’s Services Director,
“We know because the offender raped, strangled and was extremely violent towards these women, that they were at extremely high risk of being killed by him. These women will continue to suffer from the trauma of what they experienced at his hands for many years.
“The case against the former Olympian followed an escalation of obsessive, possessive, jealous, and violent behaviour, including clear statements of intent to kill the victims through strangulation and frenzied attacks when the man became enraged.
“In many situations of domestic violence, the abuse escalates over time, and the cycle is repeated with new partners. We as a society need to do better at intervening when domestic abuse is happening, before victims’ lives are threatened. We must ensure that victims are safe and offenders are made accountable.”
Often these offenders are men who don’t ‘look the type’, those who may be well educated and clean-cut in appearance use this public misconception to their advantage.
The former Olympian’s defence lawyer Hugh Leabourne pointed to references from those who knew the man well and described him as intelligent, likeable and disciplined which would have helped the offending control and manipulate his victims by minimising their own actions, denying responsibility for the harm he caused and ultimately blaming the victim for the abuse they suffered.