Abuser made partner feel like a ‘prisoner’ in her own home

A 36-year-old man who made his girlfriend feel like a “prisoner” in her own home has been found guilty of abuse.

Mark Gilhespy had denied being violent towards his partner, forcing her to give evidence during a trial at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Appearing via video-link she told the court how Gilhespy had physically prevented her from leaving her own Lerwick home, grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the floor naked.

The court heard seven foul mouthed voicemails which Gilhespy had left during which he called her a “dirty tramp” and a “horrible skank”.

Text messages were read out in which the partner told Gilhespy he had made her “feel like a prisoner in my own home”.

“Never in my life have I been treated the way you treated me,” the text said.

Gilhespy replied to the text, hinting he would take his own life.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Gilhespy was “guilt-tripping” her with the threat of suicide.

The court heard the relationship, which lasted from July to 3rd October last year, had deteriorated when the partner moved into a flat in Lerwick where Gilhespy also spent most of his time.

“Mark just changed,” she said.

“He didn’t particularly like me spending time with anyone else but him, including family.

“He questioned me on everything I was doing and accused me of having relationships with co-workers, just for getting a lift home.”

She said Gilhespy would call her names including “whore, slut and liar”.

Ordinarily a sociable person, the former partner said it “became easier to just not see people”.

The questioning continued at work, where she said she would receive up to 10 messages a day from him.

She said he would also message her when he went to visit his son in the Newcastle area, where he is originally from.

Gilhespy, who now lives in Boldon Colliery, Tyne and Weir, would become “really quite nasty” when he did not believe her, she said.

“He would call me names and it was almost like he found it amusing.

“There were times when he would laugh in my face and call me a liar.

“He could see I was very distressed by it but he would not stop.

“It was almost like he enjoyed it.”

She said the violence began in the final week of the relationship when a colleague gave her a lift home and Gilhespy accused her of sleeping with him. She tried to leave but said said he physically stopped her.

“At one stage I was holding on to my front door and trying to prise it open and he was pushing the door closed, grabbing and pulling me,” she said.

The following morning she said Gilhespy was still “fixated on this guy who had given me a lift”. That’s when she said he grabbed her neck and threw her on the floor.

She said the third attack  happened when she made a “stupid drunken decision” to visit Gilhespy’s home early one morning.

After more “shouting and swearing” she said Gilhepsy “pinned me to the sofa” and “jammed my leg in the door” when trying to leave.

“This went on for what felt like hours,” she added.

The court heard how police photos showed her with bruising to the arms, elbow and shoulder following the incident.

Defence agent Tommy Allan, however, suggested she “gave as good as she got”, pointing to injuries Gilhespy had also sustained.

​​​​​​​The ex-partner said that she had only acted to fight him off.

Mr Allan said while Gilhespy accepted he would not be leaving court with a “ringing endorsement of his character”, he denied physically assaulted his partner.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank however said he found the partner’s evidence to be “credible and reliable” and sufficient to find Gilhespy guilty.

He adjourned the case until 8th June for criminal justice social work reports to produced ahead of sentencing.


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