Mansfield domestic abuser jailed for 14 years

09/02/2017

A Nottinghamshire man has been jailed for a violent attack on his ex-partner and he and his aunt have both received sentences for trying to stop her giving evidence against him.

Joe Liffen had an on and off relationship with the victim, which had featured a number of episodes of violence. He had served a prison term for assaulting her and been subject to a restraining order. However, he had continued to contact her on his release and when she finally said to him that she wanted to be free of him, he attacked her after she had been on a night out. He broke into her home while she was out, taking a knife with him, and lay in wait for her. When she returned, he attacked her in her own bedroom. He punched her repeatedly and tried to strangle her. The attack was only stopped when the police arrived.

Liffen was arrested and prosecuted for the attack. However, at the trial in May 2016, the victim did not attend to give evidence. She was reported missing by her family and subsequent investigations revealed that Liffen and his aunt, Samantha Bailey, had been in contact with her to prevent her from coming to court.

Once she was found, she was given the support she needed to give evidence against Liffen. In the face of a prosecution supported by the victim, Liffen had no option but to plead guilty to his crimes. Samantha Bailey also pleaded guilty and they were jailed for 14 years and 15 months respectively.

Michelle Mannion from the CPS said: "In preparing for the original trial for the assault on the victim, there was clear evidence of a history of domestic violence in the relationship, mainly connected with Liffen's drug use. The CPS prepared evidence that this behaviour pattern was escalating, and culminated with Liffen lying in wait for the victim in her home and attacking her late at night as she returned home.

"Having endured physical violence and emotional abuse, she was then manipulated by Liffen, using illegal mobile phones in prison, and his aunt, Samantha Bailey. As a result, she did not come to court at Liffen's first trial to give evidence and the case was adjourned.

"One of the main challenges the CPS faces in cases of domestic abuse is when victims feel they do not want to give evidence. However, sometimes the only way to break the cycle of abuse is through a prosecution. The victim was supported in giving her evidence, including providing a video interview to explain the events leading up to the trial in May. We then worked with the police to examine a large volume of phone evidence that showed extensive contact between Liffen and the  victim. This proved the lengths that Liffen and Bailey had taken to prevent the victim from speaking out. With this evidence secured, Liffen pleaded guilty to the assault and both he and Bailey both pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

"The sentences handed down today reflect the seriousness of the impact of their crimes on the victim. Liffen's conviction and sentence has enabled her to move forward with her life and try to put the past events behind her. I hope it will encourage other victims to come forward with the reassurance that they will be supported throughout the process and perpetrators will be brought to justice."

Background information:

  • Jo Liffen pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and breaching his restraining order. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the GBH, three years to run consecutively for the conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and one year to run concurrently for breaching the restraining order. He was also served with a further restraining order, preventing him from contacting the victim directly or indirectly or from going within 200 yards of any address she lives in, or that he believes she lives.
  • Samantha Bailey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
  • Michelle Mannion is a district crown prosecutor and domestic abuse specialist at CPS East Midlands.