First person sentenced under new Scottish domestic abuse law

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A man has been sentenced under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A man in Glasgow has become the first person convicted under a new domestic abuse law in Scotland.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act, passed by Holyrood in January last year, came into effect across the country last month.

The “groundbreaking legislation criminalises psychological domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour, in addition to covering physical abuse.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court, 43-year-old William James Murdoch pled guilty to offences under the Act and was sentenced on Wednesday.

His offences included making a series of abusive phone calls to his ex-wife and breach of the peace.

He was sentenced to a community payback order with 14 months’ supervision and 200 hours’ unpaid work, as well as being subject to a two-year non-harassment order.

Detective Superintendent Gordon McCreadie, national lead for domestic abuse, said the conviction was a “positive start” towards tackling domestic abuse.

“The introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act marks a new era in how Scotland tackles domestic abuse,” he said.

“Those coercive and controlling behaviours, that for so long were the hidden aspects of abuse, are now being brought into the open. With the new law we can now investigate and report the full circumstances of an abusive relationship to Crown, as happened in this case.

“This conviction is a positive start and a clear signal that domestic abuse in any form will not be tolerated. There is only one person responsible for domestic abuse and that is the perpetrator who should be held to account for their abusive behaviour.

“No one deserves to live in fear and if you are experiencing domestic abuse, please seek support from the police or one of our partners. We take all reports seriously, you will be listened to and your report thoroughly investigated.

“A number of other cases are progressing through the system and we will continue to monitor the new offence to ensure an effective response.”

Anne Marie Hicks, the national procurator fiscal for domestic abuse, said: “This conviction under Scotland’s groundbreaking new legislation represents a highly significant step forward in tackling domestic abuse.

“The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) take a rigorous approach to crimes of domestic abuse and we are committed to prosecuting these crimes effectively and appropriately, using all of the tools at our disposal.

“I hope the prosecution and conviction in this case will provide reassurance to victims and that they will have greater confidence to report all forms of abusive behaviour.

“COPFS will continue to work closely with Police Scotland and other partners, including Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and Assist, to tackle and prevent domestic abuse, and we strongly encourage anyone who has been a victim of any such offending to report this to the police and seek support.”

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