HMA v DAVID COX

At Aberdeen Sheriff Court today, 9 September 2014, Sheriff Graeme Napier sentenced David John Cox to three years’ imprisonment after he was convicted of domestic abuse charges.

On sentencing, Sheriff Napier made the following statement in court: 

“Mr Cox, you were convicted by a jury of your peers of committing a series of serious assaults on firstly your partner Rosemary Ringwood, secondly your wife Corrina Cox and a third victim. As counsel pointed out none of the assaults of themself resulted in what would normally be considered aggravated injuries. But they did result in injury and their domestic context and your persistence in the conduct to the individual females overall is a significant aggravating factor. 

The behaviour I heard evidence about covered six charges and the period from 1 July 1990 until 31 May 2013, a period of almost 23 years. You seem to have easily transferred your violence from Ms Ringwood to Mrs Cox within a matter of weeks of the relationship with Ms Ringwood ending. That violence continued throughout your relationship with Mrs Cox both before and after your marriage and the birth of your two children. 

When I adjourned the matter for sentence I warned you that a custodial sentence was one of the options I would have to consider. I also explained to you that because you have not previously served a custodial sentence I required to obtain a Criminal Justice Social Work report. This I told you would also explore alternative sentencing options to a custodial disposal. I would have explained to you that it was a condition of your bail that you co-operated with the preparation of the report. You will no doubt have been well advised also by your legal representatives of the significance of the content of that report as far as my decision on sentence was concerned. I am told that you are an intelligent person. You have held down significant and well remunerated employment in the oil industry. There are questions raised in the report I have seen about your attitude to the sentencing process. However, these do not seem to me to be of any real significance as far as the primary sentence I propose to impose is concerned. 

The offences I heard about were not pre-planned. Rather they suggest a lack of control by a person who is used to getting his own way: to controlling and manipulating others and willing to meet out the type of violence I and the jurors heard about during the trial. 

Although I am aware that you have an outstanding case relating to an assault which led to the investigation which unravelled this history of offending, as a first offender for the purposes of this case you are entitled to the presumption against a custodial sentence set out in section 204 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. This provision requires me not to impose such a sentence unless I am satisfied that there is no other way of dealing with you. 

Having listened carefully to all that has been said in mitigation on your behalf; having taken into account that you have recently attended counselling (although you were supposed to have dealt with your anger management issues years ago); having considered the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report; and having reminded myself of the content of the two victim impact statements, I am satisfied that there is no other appropriate disposal in your case than a custodial sentence. 

Deterrence and retribution are material considerations and although there is more to sentencing than sending a message to society of the unacceptability of this type of behaviour, that is part of the purpose of a custodial sentence. I accept that such a sentence will not return to your wife, a woman who was swept away by what she thought was mutual love of a much older man, the self-respect and self-confidence she should have. It will not compensate your daughter for the years of childhood effectively stolen from her; or the mental health problems she has apparently flowing from your conduct to her. I doubt whether any sentence could do these things. 

Taking into account your age and the impact of this conviction on your employability I consider that the appropriate sentence is one of three years’ imprisonment dating from today. Taking into account your attitude to this offending and the sentencing process and the impact of your behaviour on your victims, bearing in mind the way in which you transitioned from one victim to another, bearing in mind that very quickly after the end of period libelled and the end of your relationship with your wife of many years you had formed another relationship with another woman, I consider that once you are released from prison you should be subject to supervision by a local authority criminal Justice Social Worker. This is with a view to reducing the risks you pose to members of the public, particularly those you are involved in a relationship with. You will accordingly also be subject to a Supervised Release Order for a period of 12 months following your release from prison. This means that a supervising officer will be assigned to you. You have to report to that person and advise him or her of where you are staying. You have to comply with any requirements made of you in particular with regard to your attitude and behaviour to women. If you fail to do these things that amounts to a breach of the order and you are libel to be returned to court and sent back to prison for the length of time remaining on the order from the date of the breach.”