Concern over abuse jail term

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CRIME chiefs and a domestic violence campaigner have slammed a judge for allowing a man who admitted a reign of terror over his partner.

Anthony Bruce, 34, was handed a suspended sentence at Teesside Crown Court by Judge George Moorhouse on Tuesday after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm and witness intimidation.

The judge handed him a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, with an alcohol treatment order and also made him the subject of a restraining order.

Bruce bit and tried to choke his partner when she spoke about splitting up at their home in Chester-le-Street in April last year.

He threatened to shoot her in the eye, then fired a pellet into her foot before she managed to get away.

Days after his arrest, he rang her and said “drop the charges or I will torch...” but she put the phone down before he could finish. Ron Hogg, the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, and Vera Baird, his Northumbria counterpart, have criticised the decision to give a suspended sentence.

Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, said: “I feel a combination of disbelief and fury.”

She was shocked the intimidation charge alone did not warrant a jail term and said she felt the judge has failed in his duty.