‘He took advantage of a vulnerable young woman to take control’

Harley Smith
Harley Smith
Fitness Festival - (L-R) Megan Seaward and Mandy Gault from Chichester University Institute of Sport Picture: Duncan Shepherd

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Tim Cole, Senior District Crown Prosecutor for the CPS Wessex said: ‘This case is a clear example of controlling and coercive behaviour.

‘Harley Smith was fully aware that Chelsea Bush was a vulnerable young woman and he took advantage of this to exercise continuous control on her. His controlling and coercive behaviour included restricting her access to her own bank account, limiting her contact with her family and friends, having full control of her phone, checking her phone logs and forbidding her to use her phone outside their flat.’

‘His controlling nature seemed to have no limits as he even accompanied her into a job interview. She did not get the job.

‘Harley Smith was arrested thanks to Chelsea’s grand-mothers who called the police when they saw that their granddaughter could not escape from the mental power that Harley Smith had on her.

‘People who are subject to controlling and coercive behaviour by their partners or spouse are victims of domestic abuse. In this case there was also physical violence but in some other cases the abuse is purely mental. The CPS takes very seriously cases where there is evidence of controlling and coercive and our prosecutors in addition to the Code for Crown Prosecutors consider carefully our legal guidance when prosecuting such cases.’

Head of Public Protection Detective Superintendent Scott MacKechnie said: ‘Control is a key element of all cases of domestic abuse. Many people associate domestic abuse with physical assault however controlling behaviour and mental abuse can have an equal and longer lasting effect on the victim.

‘There will be people in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight right now living in situations where their partner may control their freedom to leave the house, their finances and contact with family and friends. If this takes place repeatedly or continuously, and has an adverse effect on performing day to day activities, then it is a form of coercive control.

‘We would encourage anyone affected by coercive control, or family and friends who recognise the signs, to talk to us. We work closely with support services who can help you escape from domestic abuse and keep you safe while we work to bring offenders to justice. Coercive control is a crime you don’t have to suffer.’