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First North East prosecution for controlling and coercive behaviour


A Cleveland man has today been sentenced in what is believed to be the North East's first prosecution for the new criminal offence of controlling and coercive behaviour.

Richard James Wilshaw, 36, of Melonsby Court, Billingham, was sentenced to a total of three and a half years, after pleading guilty to one count of engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour, one count of perverting the course of justice and two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The charges all relate to an attack by Wilshaw on his partner in December of last year.

Gerry Wareham, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East said: "Domestic abuse can have a devastating impact on the lives of victims and the CPS is committed to robust and effective prosecution.

"Wilshaw alternated between menacing and loving behaviour. When the victim followed Wilshaw's rules, he was loving and pleasant, but when the victim resisted, his behaviour changed and became harmful, including forcing her to stay in his flat against her will. This is recognisable as controlling and coercive behaviour, where one person holds more power than the other within an intimate or family relationship.

"There are a number of reasons why people may not report this abuse, including some victims not realising the full extent of the manipulation because it can be incredibly nuanced. The nature of the offence is such that it is often very difficult for victims who may feel unable to come forward or frightened of the consequences if they do. My message to victims is clear - if you feel you are subject to this kind of controlling abusive behaviour then please come forward and the CPS will do everything we can to bring offenders to justice."


  • Count 1 (s47 assault) - 6 months
  • Count 2 (s47 assault) - 18 months
  • Count 3 (pervert course of justice) - 6 months
  • Count 4 (controlling/coercive behaviour) - 12 months

All sentences to be served consecutively, hence a total of 3 years six months. Restraining order also imposed.


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk and visit our official News Brief -
  3. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  4. At 31 March 2015 we employed a workforce of approximately 5,895 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2,255 prosecutors and 3,288 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:
  5. The CPS, together with police representatives (formerly ACPO) and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.