Woman who filmed ex battering her on home camera campaigns for tougher domestic abuse sentences

A woman who feared she would be killed by her violent ex has demanded a crackdown on “plea bargains” for domestic abusers.

Elizabeth Shanks, 35, suffered a three-year campaign of abuse at the hands of her partner Christopher Forrest – with some of the attacks caught on camera at home.

She bravely released footage of the assaults, which showed Forrest beating her on a couch after her abuser was convicted.

Now she is urging an end to domestic abusers getting lighter sentences for early guilty pleas.

She took her fight to Holyrood last week where she met other victims supporting a change in the law. They are backing Tory MSP Pam Gosal, who has introduced a private members Bill to tackle domestic abuse and bring in tougher sentences.

Elizabeth said: “One of the amendments proposed is plea bargains have to be discussed with the victim first and justified. The man who attacked me got off lightly. I had to fight for him to get a prison sentence. He got time off for pleading guilty but showed no remorse.

“This was even commented on by the judge but he still got time off, then only served half that sentence. The justice system needs to change.”

Forrest, 41, was jailed for 27 months in August 2022 after his abuse of Elizabeth at her home in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, left her mentally and physically scarred.

As well as tougher sentencing, Elizabeth wants a similar public register of domestic abusers to the one for sex offenders.

She hopes to meet justice minister Angela Constance to discuss the demands of victims.

Elizabeth added: “A register would help. I look forward to meeting the minister to discuss the Bill and the amendments.” Elizabeth also says abusers shouldn’t be able to drag their victims through civil courts after conviction.

"Civil and criminal courts don’t share data, which allows domestic abusers to further exploit their victims.

Forrest continued to target her from behind bars when he launched a civil action to seize a sofa and TV he said were his.

The case was thrown out but not before he’d put Elizabeth through a further ordeal. She said: “Civil and criminal courts don’t share information. This needs to stop.”

In a statement, Elizabeth said Forrest forced bank notes into her mouth as punishment for asking him for money.

In one clip, she can be heard gasping for breath as he chokes her, raging “You’re going to die”. In other footage, she is pushed against a car and thrown to the ground.

Tory justice spokesman Russell Findlay said the Scottish Government’s legislation plans were “vague”, adding: “I’m keen to work with survivors to find ways to make meaningful changes to this Bill.”

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