Bullying boyfriend whose partner took her own life after turning from outgoing young mum to ‘prisoner in her own home’ due to his beatings is jailed after joking about her suicide.
By Connor Boyd
First Published: 26 March 2018
An ex-soldier who bullied and beat his girlfriend into taking her own life before joking about her suicide has been locked up.
Steven Gane, 31, was found guilty of driving Kellie Sutton toward suicide through physical and emotional abuse.
He was caged for four years and three months. Passing sentence on him at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Philip Grey told Gane:
‘Your behaviour drove Kellie Sutton to hang herself that morning. You beat her and ground her down and broke her spirits.’
Ms Sutton, who was 30, began a relationship with Gane in March of 2017. The court heard how the mother-of-three from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, went from being a positive, lively and extroverted character to being anxious, quiet, subdued and increasingly isolated from her friends after becoming involved with Gane.
On the morning of August 23 last year – five months after Gane and Ms Sutton’s relationship began – she attempted to take her own life.
She was discovered by Gane unconscious at her home after threatening to kill herself and was taken to hospital by ambulance. Ms Sutton never regained consciousness and life support was switched off three days later.
But a week later police were contacted by a friend of Gane who found out about Ms Sutton’s death. He told officers he had concerns about their relationship. The man said in a telephone conversation he’d had with Gane during that summer, he’d told him that he had ‘bust Kellie’s head open’ after losing his temper.
Mother-of-three Kellie Sutton was found unconscious in her home after trying to kill herself on August 23 last year. She never regained consciousness and her life support was switched off three days later.
Mother-of-three Kellie Sutton was found unconscious in her home after trying to kill herself on August 23 last year. She never regained consciousness and her life support was switched off three days later
During another conversation following Ms Sutton’s death, Gane told his friend that she had killed herself and was making jokes and laughing about it.
Gane was more concerned about losing a car finance deal than Ms Sutton’s death. He also told his friend that he had met a new woman.
As a result of what they’d been told the police decided to investigate. Medical records showed that she had indeed attended the Urgent Care Centre in Welwyn Garden City on June 3 with a 3cm wound to the top of her head which needed to be glued.
It was discovered that on July 6, last year police attended Ms Sutton’s home when neighbours reported hearing the couple arguing.
She confirmed to the officers they’d had a row. Ms Sutton later told a family member that Gane threw her on the floor and choked her because she’d gone out and he did not know where she was. She attempted to end the relationship that day, but it continued.
Following the incident, Ms Sutton told a friend via a WhatsApp message that Gane was abusive.
She told another friend in August that she wasn’t allowed to speak to her and felt imprisoned in her own home.
Ms Sutton had also told her mother that Gane, who moved in to her home a week after their relationship began, would often accuse her of being unfaithful, would call her names and was jealous, possessive and controlling.
He had pinned her to floor and throttled her and subjected her to what the judge described as: ‘Domineering and grossly humiliating behaviour’.
He searched her bedroom to see if man was there and sniffed her underwear to see if she had been unfaithful. He called her a ‘slut’ and accused her of cheating on him.
On Friday Gane, of Upminster, London, was found guilty of controlling and coercive behaviour following a two week trial.
He was also found guilty of actual bodily harm and one charge of assault by beating. He was in breach of a suspended sentence for possessing a prohibited weapon – a stun gun disguised as a mobile phone.
Gane was cleared of a second charge of assault by beating.
He denied hurting Ms Sutton saying that they loved each other but their relationship was sometimes ‘volatile.’
Prosecutor Simon Ash asked the judge to impose a Criminal Behaviour Order on Gane. He said Gane poses a danger to women he is in a sexual relationship with.
In a tribute read to the court on behalf of her family her mother Pamela Taylor said: ‘She was caring funny, affectionate, bubbly and kind.She would go out of her way to help others. She did not have a bad bone in her body..’
They went on: ‘ Kelly was so loved and knowing we won’t see her again is so painful.
‘What he (Gane) did to her breaks all our hearts. He made her feel worthless and unloved – nothing could be further from the truth. Long after he is out of prison we shall still grieve her loss.’
Her family said they hoped Ms Sutton’s story would help others break free from domestic abuse.
Sentencing him the judge said: ‘Kellie Sutton had the great misfortune to meet you.
‘It is clear you saw her as a passport to a more comfortable live. You sought to dominate and control her.
‘We heard from witnesses she withdrew from the world when you moved into her house. You gave her plenty to cause her to be scared of you.’
The judge said that even when Gane, who was described as having significant issues with cocaine and alcohol, gave evidence he did not hear any sadness or regret that Ms Sutton had died.
He made the Criminal Behaviour Order requested by the prosecution. It means that if Gane becomes involved in a sexual relationship with any woman in the future that lasts for 14 days or longer he must notify Hertfordshire police
The judge also highly commended DS Andrea Dolton for her work on the case.
The law regarding coercive control was brought in in 2015 and concerns intimate or family relationships where controlling behaviour by the perpetrator is used ‘repeatedly or continuously’ that has a ‘substantial adverse effect on the victim’s day-to-day activities.’