Woman jailed for 20-year campaign of domestic abuse against 'cowering' husband
A mother-of-three who subjected her husband to a “shocking” 20-year campaign of physical and mental abuse has been jailed for four years.
Sheree Spencer regularly punched, kicked, slapped, and bit her victim, who said he felt "trapped" and "feared the consequences of speaking out".
He "cowered sometimes on his hands and knees on the floor" as he was threatened with physical violence by his wife, who sometimes drank three bottles of wine a day, Hull Crown Court heard.
Spencer’s long reign of terror has finally been brought to an end, after she admitted coercive and controlling behaviour, three counts of assault, and occasioning actual bodily harm.
The prison reform boss, who worked for HM Prison and Probation Service, was given an indefinite restraining order on top of her sentence and grinned as she was taken down to the cells.
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Spencer, 45, left her husband disfigured with a “cauliflower ear” and a chipped elbow after viciously hitting him with a wine bottle, the court heard.
She would shout orders at the father of her children, and sometimes "whispered in his face in the most sinister way", showing "utter contempt" for him.
A neighbour could overhear the constant stream of abuse, recalling Spencer saying on one occasion: “You’re not a f***ing man. I want you out of my life.”
In one incident, she damaged a tyre on her husband's car using a kitchen knife, before lunging at him with the weapon, causing a 2cm cut below his knee.
The abusive behaviour escalated when the family were living in London, the court heard, with Spencer hitting her husband on the back of the head with a wine glass, leaving him needing stitches.
The abuse was eventually brought to an end in June 2021 after a concerned welfare worker raised the alarm with police.
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The husband handed over 43 photographs of injuries, 36 video clips and nine mobile phone recordings to officers.
Spencer, from Market Weighton, East Yorkshire, would also hurl insults at her partner, and damage his property including laptops, phones and clothes.
Spencer's "unpredictable and threatening" behaviour caused her husband to become estranged from his family.
In a statement that he read to a court, he said he’d fear he’d never fully recover from the 20 years of abuse, adding he felt he had to hide it from friends and family.
Spencer controlled all aspects of his daily life, including which room he could sleep in and which toilet he could use.
"She threatened to make false allegations to me to the police," he said, adding that he felt "trapped" and became "increasingly hardened" to the abuse.
He said following Spencer’s arrest, the problems continued during Family Court hearings as she claimed to be the victim, forcing him to defend himself against false allegations.
"She continued to exert her control over me”, the husband added.
Defence barrister Richard Pratt KC said that there was "little if anything" that could be said in mitigation.
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He said “alcohol played the most significant part” in the “shocking” and “distressing” case, which combined with prescription medication, caused Spencer to behave in a way that “appalled” her.
Judge Kate Rayfield said that Spencer had a "short temper" and was controlling and coercive to her "vulnerable" husband.
She said two hours of recording incidents had been compiled and that it could not be “overstated how shocking” it was, adding: "You have caused him significant psychological harm.”