1491795823933 - Mathematical error by judge sees jail term shortened

Mathematical error by judge sees jail term shortened

A killer who beat his partner to death after an orchestrated and violent campaign of domestic terror and abuse has had two months knocked off his jail sentence.

Jesse Ferris-Bromley has successfully appealed an eight-year sentence imposed for the manslaughter of his partner Virginia Ford, because of a judge’s mathematical error.

But the killer’s plea for further reductions for previous good character were roundly rejected by the Court of Appeal.

The three judges hearing Ferris-Bromley’s appeal in Wellington last month, in a decision made public on Monday, highlighted the severe beatings he dished out to his partner in the days and weeks before he killed her.

READ MORE * Jesse Ferris-Bromley sentenced for Palmerston North manslaughter * Jesse Ferris-Bromley admits killing partner, university student Virginia Ford

“We do not think the [sentencing] judge erred. No credit for good character was deserved in relation to the lead offence, the concluding act at the end of a lengthy sequence of domestic violence, which resulted in Ms Ford’s death,” the judgment says.

“The concept of good character is a hollow one when offending occurs regularly and is secretive in nature, as the domestic abuse was in this case.”

Ferris-Bromley, then 22, killed Ford, 20, in March 2015. The pair, both Massey University students, were living in Palmerston North, having moved from Dunedin.

The fatal beating, which started over an argument about dinner, was so severe it ruptured part of Ford’s small intestine. Ferris-Bromley pulled her off a bed, threw her on the floor, punched her head and struck her abdomen “with great force”, leaving her unconscious.

Ferris-Bromley didn’t immediately call for help, instead wiping blood away from Ford’s eyes. Only later in the evening, when Ford stopped breathing, did Ferris-Bromley phone an ambulance.

The horrific attack was not a one-off event in a two-year relationship marked by psychological and physical violence by Ferris-Bromley.

Weeks before Ford died, he broke her ribs in 13 places. Just days before the fatal beating, Ferris-Bromley’s attack or attacks caused an “acute subdural haemorrhage” and extensive bruising to Ford’s eyes, chest, groin and buttocks.

It later emerged that Ferris-Bromley had written “do better” lists for Ford.

At the appeal hearing, defence lawyer Lucy Scott argued Ferris-Bromley deserved a 10 per cent reduction in sentence for an absence of previous convictions.

The sentencing judge gave Ferris-Bromley a 23.8 per cent discount for pleading guilty, after a charge of murder was dropped, rather than the 25 per cent promised. He gave no further discounts.

The Court of Appeal has altered Ferris-Bromley’s jail term to seven years and 10 months. He must now serve a minimum term of three years and eleven months.

Ford’s father John Ford said he was unaware of the appeal judgment and declined to comment further.

Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury congratulated the Court of Appeal judges, Justices Brendan Brown, Stephen Kos and Joe Williams, for not allowing Ferris-Bromley’s argument about previous good character.

“That was just a ridiculous claim, completely,” she said.

Jury said Ferris-Bromley’s reign of terror was typical of serious domestic violence cases.

“In some cases, it’s more good luck than good management that somebody doesn’t die.”

Ford would have been in a “hell of a lot of pain” in the days before her death, Jury said.

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