Waterlooville man who inflicted "constant shadow of fear" over woman and pointed knife at her jailed

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A man who emotionally abused a woman so much that it cast a "constant shadow of fear" over her has been put behind bars.

Liam David Stratford, of Avondale Road in Waterlooville, admitted to several incidents of controlling and coercive behaviour at Portsmouth Crown Court. The 29-year-old victim contacted police on July 9, 2023, after Stratford held a knife to her throat. She reported that Stratford's actions and behaviour had caused serious and alarm and distress - leaving her with so much lasting anxiety that she struggles to go outside with her young daughter, court heard.

She said in court that Stratford, 30, used violence and threats of violence, demanded access to her phone, threatened self harm, isolated her from friends, monitored her whereabouts and used financial exploitation. Stratford snatched the victim's phone away from her following an argument in April 2023. He proceeded to take a knife from the kitchen drawer and demanded she take him to the shop while holding it at her. She drove her car to a petrol station in Cosham while Stratford continued to point the blade at her while he was in the passenger seat.

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Liam David Stratford of Avondale Road in Waterlooville pleaded guilty to all charges at Portsmouth Crown Court. Picture: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary/Chris Moorhouse.Liam David Stratford of Avondale Road in Waterlooville pleaded guilty to all charges at Portsmouth Crown Court. Picture: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary/Chris Moorhouse.
Liam David Stratford of Avondale Road in Waterlooville pleaded guilty to all charges at Portsmouth Crown Court. Picture: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary/Chris Moorhouse. | Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary/Chris Moorhouse.

He entered the shop with the knife in his pocket. Court heard when Stratford heard the charges against him, he requested a phone call where a detention officer overheard him requesting someone to approach the victim and get her to drop the charges. Stratford admitted to four charges on December 18 including engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship between November 30, 2022, and July 3, 2023, possession of an article with a blade or sharply pointed object in a public place, criminal damage and perverting the course of justice.

He has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison at the same court on February 2. Detective constable Vivian Schram, an officer in the case, said: "The courage of this young woman to stand up to her abuser and report his coercive and controlling behaviour is a positive example that perpetrators will face serious consequences for their actions. The victim’s personal statement, delivered in court with immense strength and perseverance, had a profound impact on the proceedings. The 29 year-old victim expressed the ongoing emotional distress affecting not just herself, but also her family.

"She bravely detailed how controlling and coercive behaviour had become a distressing norm for her, admitting it took considerable effort to speak about her experiences of the past few months. She described feeling vulnerable and unsafe due to Stratford’s actions, detailing to such heightened anxiety that she struggles to even go out with her three-year-old daughter. Her impact statement concluded with a heartfelt plea for Stratford to stop his harassment, allowing her the chance to move forward without the constant shadow of fear, wanting to rediscover the joys of life with her loved ones again.

"Domestic abuse perpetrators commit some of the worst offending imaginable, leaving lifelong physical and emotional scars on those affected. Our officers do not tolerate any form of it and we will do everything in our power to work with specialist support services to help victims. I want other people out there who are being abused and suffering in silence to please come to us and report it. We are here for you and will listen, but if you don’t want to speak to a police officer there are independent support services out there that can give you the help you need."

Further information on how to access independent support and where people can report domestic abuse can be found on the police website.