Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

North East Commissioners call for Judge to be investigated.

Commissioners call for Judge to be investigated

The north east’s three Police and Crime Commissioners are calling on the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office to investigate a Teesside Judge who let down a victim of domestic abuse.

It follows the court case of a 34-year-old man, who was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and given a 12 month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the man had terrorised his wife by biting and throttling her, before holding a knife to her throat and shooting her in the toe during a terrifying attack.

Even after the police became involved, the man attempted to intimidate the victim to drop the charges but the victim went ahead and ensured the matter was dealt with by the courts.

Sadly, the court and Judge George Moorhouse did not deliver for this victim of domestic abuse and the three Commissioners – Northumbria’s Vera Baird, Barry Coppinger from Cleveland and Durham’s Ron Hogg – feel the sentence was unduly lenient.

Vera Baird said: “Judge Moorhouse does not appreciate that he has a role to play in stopping the epidemic crime of domestic violence and abuse. This sentence sends out the totally wrong message to victims of this crime.”

Mrs Baird added: “Barry Coppinger, Ron Hogg and myself have worked hard to deliver a regional strategy to help protect women and girls who are affected by domestic violence and abuse.

“We’ve changed the culture in how the police deal with such cases and our partners work much closer together to offer support and guidance to victims, then we are let down by the courts with lenient sentences like this.”

In a letter to the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office, the three Commissioners say Judge Moorhouse needs to be accountable for his actions and to understand that his conduct is not acceptable.

They said the Judge had sent out the wrong message to women not just in the north east but across the country that male judges will not take a role in protecting them or deterring the crime from which they suffer.

The Commissioners also feel that all Judges should undergo training to learn about the effects of domestic abuse and how it hurts both the victims and their families.

Vera Baird added: “I don’t want victims of domestic abuse to be put off from telling the police what is happening to them.

“We’ve dedicated police staff who will help and support victims. We are on the side of victims and will continue to support them in every way we can.

“There are good Judges who give proper verdicts that fit the crime and we now need to make sure all Judges are of the same mindset.”