Jail for hours of domestic violence

James Graham Body made his partner cook him a meal, made her watch him eat it, and then smashed the plate in front of her when he was finished.

It was just a part of the hours of abuse he inflicted on the woman during an evening of threats and domestic violence at the Waikuku home on July 21, 2017.

“She deserved to be treated better,” Judge Stephen O’Driscoll told the heavily tattooed 36-year-old at his Christchurch District Court sentencing.

Judge O’Driscoll jailed Body for five years three months on three charges of assaulting the woman, two of doing threatening acts with an airgun, threatening to kill, and kidnapping her by unlawfully detaining her.

He had denied all the charges but a jury had found him guilty. The judge said the woman’s credibility had been called into question at the trial but the jury had found her “an honest, reliable, and credible witness”.

The woman said in her victim impact statement that she was “petrified” of Body and had thought he was going to kill her that night. She described him as “an evil, sadistic, sick man” and said their 10-month relationship had been a living hell.

Body had controlled her, with constant abuse, yelling and screaming, controlling her money, isolating her from friends and family. He had even made her go to Gun City and buy the airgun that was used in the threatening acts that night.

During the course of the evening, he slapped her on the ear, fired the airgun into a television and a Freeview box, punched her, fired the airgun into a potplant and into the floor, bit her on the ear, detained her in the bedroom, and threatened to kill her.

Body had been drinking. Late at night, when she thought he was asleep, the woman turned on the shower to see if he would wake. He stayed asleep so she left, to find the Armed Offenders’ Squad arriving as she stepped out of the house.

She had a sore jaw, a sore neck, a body that ached from being shoved around all night, and a sore ear from the biting.

Body told the pre-sentence report writing that he did not see himself as a violent person, but Judge O’Driscoll noted previous convictions for aggravated robbery, presenting a firearm, threatening to kill, intentionally injuring, and two for assaulting a woman – one of them an earlier assault on the latest victim.

The judge said he accepted that Body had not fired the airgun at the victim, but he had intended the shootings to intimidate, belittle, and demean her.

He increased the sentence for the protection of the community, since previous sentences had not deterred Body from his violent behaviour.

Defence counsel Linda Drummond said Body accepted that he would have to undergo rehabilitation courses while in custody before the Parole Board would consider his release. He had already begun these programmes.

The judge ordered the destruction of the airgun, and gave Body a first strike warning under the system that imposes heavier penalties on repeat violent offenders.