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Winsford woman sentenced for controlling and coercive behaviour.

A woman from Winsford who physically and psychologically controlled the life of her former partner has been handed a suspended sentence.

Sarah Rigby appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday 3 May where she was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years.

She was also handed a five year restraining order and ordered to complete 35 rehabilitation.

The 41-year-old of Sunningdale Close, Winsford, had previously pleaded guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour.

The court was told that the couple’s relationship first began in July 2021 and initially everything was good between the pair.

However, Rigby quickly became very controlling and within months she had forced her partner to move into her home in Winsford.

As soon as he arrived at the address, he was made to store all his belongings in the garage and she ordered him pay £700 a month rent, despite the fact Rigby’s father already owned the house.

Her behaviour continued to escalate further, and she soon took full control of all his finances, cut him off from his family and friends, and stopped him from being in the house alone – despite the fact he needed to work from home.

As the relationship continued, Rigby also stopped the victim from showering or defecating at the house, meaning that he had to go to a local gym to wash. She also searched him as he was entering and leaving the house to ensure he wasn’t taking anything that she didn’t approve of.

If he didn’t comply with her orders, Rigby would punish him by physically assaulting him, preventing him from eating, and making the victim sleep on the floor with no duvet and the windows left open.

As a result of her actions, the victim lost four stone in weight during the couple’s nine-month relationship.

As well as the physical abuse, Rigby also verbally and psychologically abused him, constantly putting him down and bombarding him with messages, calling fat, ugly, and disgusting.

Thankfully, the victim found the courage to speak out and in March 2022 he contacted Cheshire Police after seeking help from a men’s domestic abuse helpline.

Following the call, an investigation was launched by detectives in Northwich CID and Rigby was subsequently charged in relation to the incidents.

Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Sophie Ward said:

“Firstly, I would like to praise the victim for having the courage to speak out, as well as the bravery that he has shown throughout the investigation.

“This is the worst case of controlling and coercive behaviour I have ever seen.

“Rigby had a stranglehold on the victim. Through her coercive behaviour she was able to control everything he did, cutting him off from everyone he knew and leaving him trapped, feeling like he had nowhere to turn.

“Her actions left the victim both physically and emotionally scarred, and even now, two years after their relationship ended, he is still receiving phycological counselling to help him recover.

“Even after she was charged, Rigby continued to taunt her victim, refusing to return his belongings, and constantly delaying the trial by failing to notify the court of holidays and appointments.

“Although she eventually pleaded guilty to her offending, she has shown no remorse for her actions.

“While the victim will never be able to forget what happened to him, I hope that the conclusion of this case will help him to move forward and start to rebuild his life.”

Detective Constable Ward added:

“Many people think that only women can be victims of controlling and coercive behaviour, but as this case demonstrates, that is not always the case and there is help available.

“We treat all reports we receive seriously and will investigate thoroughly to ensure that those responsibility are brought to justice.

“If you, or someone you know, are a victim of this type of behaviour then please speak out.”

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