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Brother devastated by court decision

PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 May 2002 | UPDATED: 12:00 03 March 2010

DEVASTATED Thomas Westgate today slammed the decision to allow his brother's killer walk free from court.

He said: "I want to see justice for John's sake.

DEVASTATED Thomas Westgate today slammed the decision to allow his brother's killer walk free from court.

He said: "I want to see justice for John's sake. How can they let a killer, who even admitted it, walk free? "

However women's aid workers hailed the decision for giving support to those who suffer domestic violence.

Yesterday , judge David Mellor allowed domestic violence victim Zena Burton to walk free despite her admission she strangled her partner with a television aerial flex.

Thomas Westgate, 50, said of the killing: "This was no accident. This was deliberate.

"We endured three hours in court listening to Zena's problems and about five minutes given over to my brother.

"They portrayed him in such a bad light. He was not a bad person. He didn't go around beating people up like they said in court. They got her off by making him out in a bad light. He just wasn't like that. To the family, he was a real softy."

John Westgate's children, Michael, 18 and Caroline, 16, and his former wife Liz, were said to be "devastated" by the verdict.

Thomas, who lives in Lyndhurst Avenue, Ipswich, had to identify his brother's body.

He said it showed every sign of having been subjected to sustained attacks.

He said: "I couldn't believe it when I saw him. I couldn't even recognise my own brother.

"There's no doubt that he had had a rough time. The only way I could recognise him was by a scar on his neck."

In the event of new evidence coming to light, the family has pledged to launch an appeal.

Thomas Westgate's girlfriend Marion Fulcher said: "They said things in court that were never proved. His children are devastated by the things they said. Things that weren't true."

Although Mr Westgate's family was outraged, women's groups in the area have welcomed yesterday's landmark ruling.

Hilary Cadman, director of Ipswich Women's Aid, said: "I have never heard anything like this before.

"The judge has shown extraordinary insight and understanding into the complex issues that surround domestic violence. The verdict today is at long last a recognition of the long term effects caused by continual and escalating violence."

According to domestic statistics, one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives.

The same statistics report an incident of domestic violence takes place in England and Wales every 10 seconds.

And one in five men admitted having used violence against their partner or ex-partner at least once.

Ms Cadman said: " Domestic violence is about men who are controlling in their behaviour, who pick on women – who are naturally the weaker sex physically – to control them."

She added: "Typically violence involves a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour that is deliberate, persistent and frequently life threatening.

"Women find ways to manage the pain which accompanies repeated physical, sexual and emotional abuse and cope by switching from defensive to assertive strategies and back again."

The reasons women don't leave an abusive partner are complex, including economic dependence and the fear of more violence.

Ms Cadman explained: "Women hope he will change or they may have nowhere to go.

"Women often don't tell family and friends for fear of reprisals or putting them at risk.

"The impact of this violence on women is that their self-worth diminishes,

even to the point of blaming themselves for the situation and believing they

can't make a life on their own. There are high levels of psychological

consequences."


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