By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A 42-year-old man terrifyingly erupted, throttled and threw around his wife ‘Tracey’ and grabbed his son by the throat after his son leapt to her defence.
Aside from the physical bruises, Tracey still feels she’s being punished by her estranged husband who she describes as “arrogant” and a “law to himself”.
The harm is mainly financial. He’s starved them of funds and cut off services like Netflix.
They’ve relied on the support of welfare agency WAYSS.
“He is the type of person who won’t be told what to do.”
Two days after being convicted in Dandenong Magistrates’ Court, he wants to see his kids again.
A judge has barred him from any contact with the family for two years under an intervention order. So he’s made the request legally – via a solicitor’s letter.
All had been fine in their 10-year-plus marriage until she caught her husband having an affair 12 months ago.
He then turned abusive and violent.
“He blamed me for it because I couldn’t get over it. He doesn’t like it, he thinks he can do whatever he wants.
“He doesn’t like women standing up for themselves.”
The man has breached intervention orders before. He’s been in front of court twice.
The first time, Tracey got an apprehended violence order in 2018. That was after he assaulted her, smashed her phone, flyscreen, glass panel and a hole in the wall.
He threatened to burn her and other family members in the house.
A magistrate put the man on a good behaviour bond.
On the second attack, Tracey remembers being held by the throat against the fridge. He was in a “psychotic rage”.
“I was bracing myself to be punched in the face.
“His arm was pulled back and his fist was clenched.
“I thought he’s going to knock me out.”
The worst part was when he throttled their teenage son, she says.
“If you hurt my son I’ll kill you,” she told him.
At his second appearance at court on 27 October, the man’s lawyer argued against a conviction.
“Your client is looking at a jail term,” the magistrate retorted.
“A conviction is the least of his problems.”
The man’s offending was the “absolute upper end of family violence”, the judge said.
“I can tell you that your children look to you on how to behave – and this type of behaviour sends some pretty horrifying messages.
“But the way your son acted to protect his mother indicates that he knew how you were behaving was very, very wrong.
“That’s why he rang the police – that’s a terrible, terrible position to put a young man in.”
The judge said it was “really sad listening” to the victim impact statements of the children.
“There’s been a lot of damage done and you’ve a great deal of repair work to do.”
Despite coming “very, very close” to jail, the man was given an 18-month community corrections order .
It includes 200 hours of unpaid work, supervision, mental health treatment, anger management and a mens behaviour course to “challenge the way you think and act”.
After presenting himself as remorseful, the man later commented supportively to a Facebook post on One Nation leader Pauline Hanson decrying the ‘lack’ of father’s rights.
According to Tracey, he said: “Spot on, Pauline”.
“I thought you’re a d***head to say that after what you’ve done,” she said.
“He’s the boy who cried wolf.”
A sobering fact remains that there were 2391 reported family-violence incidents in the last 12-month recording period in Greater Dandeong.
Nearly 200 a month, and more than six a day. And much more than the number of reported assaults (1725) and burglaries (1268).
Tracey says penalties need to be beefed up so “men know they have to toe the line”.
“Why are they getting away with it?
“Why are they getting a slap on the wrist? No wonder so many women are dying each day.
“By the time they’re on their third or fourth charge, some men have killed before then.”
Tracey stayed with him longer than she should have, she says. She left because she could no longer be a “punching bag” – even though the kids wanted to be with him.
But after his last outbreak of violence against her traumatised son, that’s changed.
“At the end of the day, the kids don’t want to see him anymore.”