Judge: Choking ‘prevalent’ on Gold Coast
A VISITING district court judge has spoken out against the high number of choking cases on the Gold Coast after being told that a man strangled his partner until she passed out.
Less the half an hour later, Judge Richard Jones let Matthew Brett Reynolds walk out the front door of the Southport District Court with a suspended sentence.
Reynolds pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of strangulation.
He called his now former partner a "slut" during an argument on April 24 last year, before chasing her when she tried to run away, pushing her to the ground and choking her.
The woman passed out and thought she was going to die, the court was told.
Mr Jones sentenced Reynolds to two years prison to be suspended for an operational period of two years.
Reynolds did not spend any time in pre-sentence custody.
During his sentence Mr Jones spoke about the rise in choking cases.
"It seems to be prevalent, particularly on the Gold Coast," he said.
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
Mr Jones, who is visiting Southport from Brisbane, is the second visiting district court judge in three months to comment on the high number of domestic violence cases on the Gold Coast.
In September, Judge Paul Smith said it was "a real concern" after he noted he presided over "a lot" of domestic violence cases in just one week on the Gold Coast.
Mr Jones said strangulation usually involved a "dominant male" preying on "vulnerable females".
"Often there is a very thin line between unconsciousness and death," he said.
Mr Jones said the fact Reynolds had chased the woman was a "disturbing "aspect".
He said any sentence he gave needed to deter others from committing the crime as well as reflect the community's expectations.
He said he released Reynolds immediately because of the "unusual" letter of support provided by his victim and his lack of criminal history.
Mr Jones read an exert from the letter provided by the woman.
"He is remorseful and regrets his actions and wrong doing," the letter read. "I believe he will not reoffend."
The couple has since split and Reynolds has moved to the Sunshine Coast. The woman still lives on the Gold Coast.
Mr Jones said he was also satisfied Reynolds had rehabilitated.
Mr Jones' sentence comes after a Bulletin special investigation in March found men were serving less than eight months prison for horrific choking attacks on their partners.
The investigation found six men walked after serving no more than eight months in prison.
The maximum penalty is seven years jail for non-fatal sentencing, but those sentenced in the Southport District Court are facing on average two years behind bars.
Choking and strangulation as a separate charge was only introduced in Queensland in April 2016.
It took until late last year for the first cases to start making their way to the district court for sentencing.
Last month anti-domestic violence advocates accused the judicial system of letting down choking victims through lenient sentences and allowing strangulation charges to be downgraded to assault.
Choking has become one of the most frequent charges to appear on the Southport District Court list.
Four women in three consecutive days in September described to Southport courts how they felt they were going to die as their partner strangled them.