Woman controlled partners' every move - and wouldn't even let him go to the toilet

Chester Crown Court where Sarah Rigby escaped a custodial sentence
-Credit: (Image: PA)


A woman who was studying to be a nurse "dehumanised" her partner with months of "cruel" behaviour.

Sarah Rigby, 41, has walked free from court despite subjecting the man to controlling and coercive behaviour including not letting him go to the toilet in the house they shared. He had to walk to a nearby pub, library or supermarket, Chester Crown Court heard.

She denied the charges initially but pleaded guilty just two days into her trial. She has been sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years.

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Rigby must complete 35 days of a rehabilitation activity and under restraining orders is banned from contacting the victim or his parents for five years.

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 escalated, 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, of Sunningdale Close, Winsford also stopped the victim from showering or defecating at the house, meaning that he had to go to a local gym to wash.

Chester Crown Court
Chester Crown Court -Credit:PA

The court heard the abuse also included: Assaulting him and scratching his face; making him sleep on the floor with all the windows open; controlling what he was and wasn’t allowed to eat; forcing him to pay for private treatments and reports to help her with court proceedings; making him pretend to be unwell so he could get prescriptions for codeine to fulfil her codeine habit.

She called him “fat”, “lazy”, “sweaty”, “a whale”, “dopey”, “thick”, “smelly”, “dog”; stopped him from seeing his family; frisked him when he left the house to prevent him taking food out; and accused him of stealing from her – which he wasn’t.

She said he needed to put cameras up in the house so she could watch him when she wasn’t in the same room.

She also told him: “If I’m not pregnant this month, I am going to find someone else to have sex with and get pregnant” and “I need to get pregnant this month. If I don’t, I’ll dump you”.

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 him fat, ugly, and disgusting.

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 sentencing Detective Constable Sophie Ward, said: “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.”

Senior crown prosecutor Nicky Inskip of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: “Sarah Rigby subjected her former partner to months of cruel and dehumanising behaviour. She seemed intent on humiliating and degrading him in any way she could.

“On one occasion she threw him out of the house in his underwear and refused to allow him back in. She accused him of stealing from her and, at the same time, made him pay for things for her.”

Mr Inskip added: “The abuse has had a substantial impact on this man who finally found the courage to break free from this toxic relationship and report Sarah Rigby’s behaviour to the police.

“Her treatment of him did not represent the normal ups and downs of a relationship. It was coercive, controlling and criminal. She admitted her guilt in the face of overwhelming evidence and has now been sentenced. We hope this is of some comfort to the victim.”