81-year-old man given prison sentence for sustained campaign of domestic abuse

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Police have released details of a domestic abuse case which saw an 81-year-old man given a prison sentence in November, showing abuse can happen at any stage of life.

John Wallis, an 81-year-old man from Huntingdon, was convicted of coercive and controlling behaviour towards his 74-year-old wife.

John was arrested on May 2 this year after his wife told hospital staff he had been bullying her for a number of years.

John had been convicted of a common assault on her in September 2015 and as a result was given a six-month restraining order with a condition not to go to their marital home.

Despite the order, his wife told police John had never left the marital home and she was too scared to challenge him.

Officers learnt there had been a number of incidents over the years where John had tried to stop his wife from seeing her family; she would have to make excuses to family members about why she couldn’t visit or why she couldn’t stay long – this was out of fear of John making a scene or becoming aggressive after they had left.

She would not be allowed to make phone calls to her family in private, John would stand next to her in the hallway while she had conversations with her children and also check her emails constantly which eventually led to her no longer using them.

At the start of this year, the victim fell ill and John’s behaviour worsened. On one occasion she refused to say she loved him and, knowing that she was bed-bound due to her health, he turned the lights on in the bedroom so she would struggle to sleep, knowing she couldn’t get out of bed to turn them off.

In February this year, she fell over in her living room and cried out for John to help her. He came to her aid but instead of helping, pushed her back down and told her she would stay the night on the floor. She lay in pain on the floor until 4am when she started to scream out for help. John eventually called an ambulance which took his wife into hospital where she was later diagnosed with sepsis and was told she was extremely ill.

Over the next couple of months the victim was in and out of hospital with John constantly by her side. She was sent home with a catheter and was told nurses would come to assist every day to change it. On one occasion nurses attended the home but were refused entry by John who was aggressive and told them to get off his property.

He was interviewed about all of the allegations but denied any wrongdoing.

On May 3 he was charged with breaching his restraining order and engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour. He was initially remanded in custody but granted bail by the courts the following day.

Over the following three months John was continually arrested for breaking his bail conditions by calling his wife at home, writing her letters and poems and sending her drawings. He was arrested again on August 27, remanded in custody and was due to stand trial on November 1 but changed his plea at the last minute.

T/DC Adam McCluskey, who investigated this case, said: “This sad case just goes to show domestic abuse can happen at any age. The victim was abused and controlled by Wallis for a number of years but felt powerless to do anything about it, which is tragic.

“I hope people will read this story and understand it is never too late to get out of an abusive relationship. There is no shame in admitting someone you love is treating you badly and no one should have to suffer.

“The victim was at court, along with her family, and was ready to give evidence against her husband when he changed his plea – I believe her being in court was pivotal in him changing his plea to guilty.”

The following day (Wednesday, November 2) John was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He was also given a 12-month supervision and restraining order not to contact the victim or go to the street where she resides. Should he breach these conditions he will go straight to prison.