Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Husband's brutal attack on wife three days after she gave birth was an abhorrent crime which is sadly on the increase in Northern Ireland

'Many people will wonder if the punishment does indeed fit the crime, but it must always be remembered that judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as early guilty pleas, co-operation with police and remorse, as well as aggravating factors such as intent and excessive violence' (stock photo)
'Many people will wonder if the punishment does indeed fit the crime, but it must always be remembered that judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as early guilty pleas, co-operation with police and remorse, as well as aggravating factors such as intent and excessive violence' (stock photo)

Editor's Viewpoint

Today we carry a picture of a woman who was beaten up by her husband just three days after giving birth to their daughter. It is a graphic image showing the injuries she received when she was punched and kicked on the face. We make no apology for using the photograph for it is the face of domestic violence in Northern Ireland.

Kerry Armstrong says she can never forgive her husband for the attack and it is easy to see why. Not only was she beaten but her 13-year-old daughter - her husband's stepdaughter - was also assaulted and suffered minor bruising. In the words of the judge, it was an abhorrent crime, and she jailed the attacker for 20 months.

Many people will wonder if the punishment does indeed fit the crime, but it must always be remembered that judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as early guilty pleas, co-operation with police and remorse, as well as aggravating factors such as intent and excessive violence.

What everyone can agree is that Kerry showed great courage in going through with the prosecution of her husband. Many incidents of domestic violence or abuse are never reported. Kerry is grateful for the assistance she received from Women's Aid but she has also done a great service by showing other abused women that they can seek and obtain justice.

Domestic abuse is a growing crime and in September last year police reported that the total number of known cases during the previous 12 months was 31,000. That is a shocking figure and includes all shades of abuse, from controlling a spouse or partner to actual violence.

Women can now find out if a partner or spouse has any previous history of domestic violence through the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure scheme. This is a welcome initiative which also allows relatives or friends to ask police to investigate if they feel their relation or friend is in danger. No woman should ever have to endure the thuggery directed at Kerry.

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