10 October 2012 by

Collins guilty of harassment

Those of you who read my blog on the 26 September 2012, “Collins in the dock”, may be interested to know, and indeed seen in the Press that the trial of Justin Lee Collins concluded yesterday with the jury at St Albans Crown Court finding the TV presenter and comic guilty of harassing his ex-girlfriend, Anna Larke.

The Court had been told that Collins subjected Ms Larke to a “campaign of abuse” throughout their seven-month relationship. Ms Larke alleged that Collins forced her to compile a dossier of all her previous sexual experiences. She said he forced her to quit social networking websites, always sleep facing him when they were in bed together and throw away DVDs because they featured actors she found attractive.

She claimed Collins physically attacked her while on trips to Miami and New York but said she had not shown anyone her bruises because she did not want to get “the love of my life” into trouble.

During the ten-day trial, the jury was also played a recording of Collins verbally attacking Ms Larke in a row shortly before the couple separated, in which he called her a “f***ing slag,” a “dirty, vile whore” and a “f***ing sex addict.”

Collins denied the allegations and claimed the relationship with Ms Larke had been “absolute hell” and said “I thought she loved me and was crazy about me. But it turned out only the second part was true.” He claimed he had never attacked her in any way and had never hit anyone in his life, though he said he had slapped Ms Larke on one occasion to calm her down and stop her from self-harming. Referring to the secretly recorded row, he said that his had been completely out of character and sounded “like someone else”. He said he was in “meltdown” after his relationship with Ms Larke had hit rock bottom.

The jury of nine women and two men decided Collins was guilty of a single charge of harassment causing Ms Larke fear of violence on at least two occasions. The majority verdict came after almost 12 hours of deliberation.

Judge John Plumstead sentenced Collins to carry out 140 hours of unpaid community service over the next 18 months and ordered him to pay £3,500 in prosecution costs. He told Collins the service would be “humbling work” that would “make you pause and think about what you have done.” Collins is said to have shown no emotion as he was sentenced.

Since the sentence was passed, campaigners against domestic violence have expressed serious concern about the leniency of it; Collins could have received a jail sentence of up to five years.

This case may be seen as a missed opportunity for the courts to send out a message that domestic violence in all its forms will not be tolerated and to set a benchmark for sentencing in subsequent cases. Such a message would have been very timely in light of the recent announcement that the cross-government definition of domestic violence is to be widened next year to include emotional and psychological abuse (for more information on this story please see our article: ‘New definition of domestic violence and abuse’). However in the case in point, Judge Plumstead told Collins that his crime was not a “run of the mill case of domestic violence” and that the evidence given by his estranged wife, Karen, who was amongst those who gave character references for Collins, had convinced him that what Collins had done was “genuinely out of character”.

Despite the concerns that may be raised by this case, it does increase awareness of these issues and will hopefully encourage others who are suffering to come forwards. The victim in this instance and her family said of the outcome: “We are absolutely ecstatic with the verdict and are relieved the jury were able to see through the lies of an abuser.”

Should you require advice in relation to these matters, please contact the team at Bolt Burdon.

26 September 2012 by

Collins in the dock

It has been reported in the Standard today that the trial of Justin Lee Collins, who is accused of harassing his former girlfriend, is due to begin.

9 October 2012 by

Nationwide – No Longer Interested

Nationwide Building Society has announced it will no longer offer mortgages on an interest-only basis. The rule change, effective from 11 October, is the latest move by mortgage lenders to ensure that borrowers are not taking on loans they cannot afford to repay.

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