They punch or kick, belittle and bash or try to choke.
True coward’s punches thrown at women they say they love, men arrogant to the trauma such violence inflicts on kids struck dumb in the maelstrom.
The victims - targeted wives and girlfriends, or ex-partners in a stalker’s sights - are at least spared having to front court when a hearing or trial is avoided with a guilty plea.
But it leaves the dubious “sorry” of the accused, in the hope some quiet contrition will bluff.
Just like the skinny 21-year-old, arms crossed defensively, pouting his self-serving regret. The victim, wearing a freshly minted black eye, sits right behind him as he stands to address the magistrate before a courtroom microphone recording an excuse. But she’s ignored.
Shoulders slumped and clearly uninterested in acknowledging his ways, he claims he wants to stop being violent. It’s a personal atonement he’s after, for shouting in her face, for throwing her to the floor, for getting on top - pinning her down with his weight on her chest - and inflicting a blow.
In a scene on constant repeat in Border courts, he can barely keep still for the magistrate’s rebuke for punching a woman in the face.
Sentenced to a good behaviour bond, fined a few hundred dollars and with an apprehended violence order in place to protect the victim, he scarpers out the door, glad his public airing of misogyny and control is behind him.
He might never front court again, might learn his lesson about the damage his violence and disrespect wreaks.
In his place though there is a constant flow of others who think it their right to bully and assault.
And so often that bullying and stalking is done by mobile phone, with dozens, even hundreds of text messages, often loaded with foul language and physical threats.
"You're dead and your partner's dead," was one message Thurgoona man Brett Daniel Barton sent to his former partner. "I want to hurt you. See you very soon."
The daily lists at courthouses across the Border region are full of such matters, where charges have been laid as a result of allegations of domestic and family violence. These run side-by-side with drug-addiction, quite notably to methamphetamine.
But in many cases it's not the archetypal drug-user; it's also the comfortably middle-class, otherwise clean-living man in a smart suit clearly not bought off the rack.
For many victims their experience never reaches court, these women having the financial means, the education and the support networks to help figure out an escape from the violence.
To create a new life before everything turns too ugly.
"We know of some really high functioning people that experience or perpetrate violence," one worker in the sector said.
It only takes a quick flick-through the daily court lists to see just how endemic this violence is in our community.
Case-after-case tells the common story: assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, stalking or intimidation, apprehended violence order breaches and, regularly enough, incidents of malicious wounding with everything from knives to books. Often that assault has involved a man grabbing his partner by the throat and squeezing hard. Often the spectre of drug addiction is also in the mix.
The pattern of violence from these men (rarely is it women having to answer such charges) is clear.
Back in May of 2016, Cleet Clifford Allan Brennick was in the court dock, where he pleaded-up on stalking or intimidation and assault. Then magistrate Tony Murray was told Brennick had been charged more than 20 times in NSW for domestic violence offences. All of these were against his partner of the previous nine years.
Coupled with that was a Victorian history, again centred on violence including assaulting police and intentionally causing serious injury.
This time, Brennick had warned he would slit the victim’s throat if she called police. He also shoved her in the chest and warned he would kick her head before police arrived.
A month later, another man with a shocking disregard for apprehended violence orders was jailed for 16 months. Adrian Peter Hoffman broke into his wife’s home and punched her to the head and body and grabbed her by the neck. The year before he was jailed for a similar attack on the woman.
Also around mid-2016, a man was castigated by Wodonga magistrate John O’Callaghan for assaulting and trying to choke his pregnant partner.
“People in jail,” he told Anthony James Carroll, “have less sympathy for blokes who bash women.” Carroll had squeezed her neck and, at one point, sat on top of her, leaving her unable to breathe for 10 seconds. She took out an intervention order in Wodonga Magistrates Court, but days later he visited her home and hit her several times.
Similar cases figured across the region throughout 2018.
In January, there was Shaun Thomas Stevens. He pleaded guilty in Albury Local Court to assaulting his former long-time partner only because, as he told the magistrate: “I don’t have the energy to fight it mate, that’s all."
But he had more than enough spark to grab the victim by the elbow and push her into the TV after she refused to let him leave the house with a gaming console, which he then threw to the floor.
A month later, the same court heard how a mum-of-three was followed by her scissors-wielding husband into her bedroom - in front of their children - in an ongoing attack.
The next thing the victim can recall is being on the kitchen floor and the accused was on top of her with his hands around her throat choking herEnis Besic's attack on his partner, as told by arresting police
In March, Wodonga court heard how Nila Dabadi threatened to kill his wife before repeatedly punching her to the head several times on Christmas Day. His outbreak of rage that led to hitting walls and cupboards before fracturing her eye socket during the attack was witnessed by their crying children.
In June, a man punched his girlfriend twice in the face when she tried to flee after an all-day drinking session ended in an argument. Initially in a good mood, Jacob Lee Mills pushed her to the floor, put his knees on her chest and held her down by the wrists.
He didn’t let-up for several hours, holding her captive until she was able to escape their Corowa house at 6am, after he finally fell asleep.
In August, there was the case of a Wodonga man who stalked his ex then rubbed his penis on her car window, at a set of Albury traffic lights. There were also the threats from a father-of-two to use a machete to cut off his father-in-law’s head.
A deprived childhood full of violence and a life of alcohol abuse was the background to a savage attack unleashed by Victor Bates, who repeatedly bashed the mother of their two children with a beer bottle in their Lavington house.
Yet another case where an assailant used an argument as justification for launching an attack on his partner was heard in Wangaratta court.
“Emotional terrorism” was how magistrate David Faram described the behaviour of Jason Carius, who became enraged after his mobile phone went flat, punching a fly-wire door and a hole in a garage wall as he tried to force his way back into the house she had locked.
It took three years before Wodonga man Enes Besic fronted Albury Local Court, in October, for an attack on his partner during a New Year's Eve drinking session. The woman told police she remembered going into the kitchen for a drink and a smoke.
"The next thing the victim can recall is being on the kitchen floor and the accused was on top of her with his hands around her throat choking her."
- Emergency: 000
- DV Hotline: 1800 656 463
- Safe Steps: 1800 015 188
- Betty's Place Women's Refuge: 02 6058 6200 or 1900 885 355
- DV counselling: 1800 737 732
- Kids' Helpine: 1800 789 978
- MensLine: 1300 789 978
But it was the story of Sonny Wright that frighteningly illustrates much of the violence perpetrated in our community. The 50-year-old punched his ex-wife in the eye. “You f … ing dog,” he bellowed. Wright showed no remorse. He had, police said, “a strong dislike for females,” made clear by his long history of domestic violence in NSW and Victoria.
And then there was the woman in fear of her life who fled to Albury, an almost four-hour trip from her home at Goulburn. She was convinced Mark Leslie Apps, the father of her four children, would one day come through the front door and kill her on the spot.
Constantly on edge, that all-pervasive fear meant she felt she had no choice but to let him stay after he hunted her down. Apps bleated to the magistrate that he wasn’t trying to stalk or intimidate the woman.
But the police outline of the case suggested otherwise. The woman was shopping at Lavington Square when Apps pulled up in his car beside her and their 12-year-old son. He then ordered: “Get in the f … ing car. Don’t be stupid … get in the f … ing car.”
Feeling trapped, they got in and he drove off. His volatile driving wasn’t the worst of it, rather what he said next.
“I’ve always given you three choices - an ants nest, up a gum tree … or a Cleanaway garbage disposal.”
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