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UK News Desk

Boyfriend who used his sleeping girlfriend’s thumb to unlock her iPhone avoids jail

Boyfriend who used his sleeping girlfriend’s thumb to unlock her iPhone avoids jail for ‘controlling and coercive’ reign of terror over her as judge tells him: ‘There’s lots more fish in the sea’

  • Alexander Heavens had subjected Stacey booth to a campaign of abuse
  • Couple had been in a relationship for around six years before it soured in 2016
  • He had started to socialise with new people and began using cocaine 
  • 24-year-old became paranoid and insisted having access to Miss Booth’s phone 
  • Heavens is banned from contacting Miss Booth under a restraining order 

Alexander Heavens (pictured above) has been freed by a judge who told him there are 'lots more fish in the sea'

Alexander Heavens (pictured above) has been freed by a judge who told him there are ‘lots more fish in the sea’

A controlling boyfriend who faced jail after he used his sleeping girlfriend’s thumb to unlock her phone to check if she was dating other men has been spared prison by a judge.

Alexander Heavens had subjected Stacey Booth to a campaign of both psychological and physical abuse during their relationship.

The 24-year-old managed to avoid being jailed after a judge told him ‘there’s lots more fish in the sea’ and set him a task of trying to ‘make something of yourself’.

On one occasion, Heavens, from Oldham, Greater Manchester had waited for his unsuspecting girlfriend to fall asleep before using her thumb to enable the Touch ID technology she had on her phone, in order to gain access to her messages and emails.

As the couple lay on her bed, Heavens placed Miss Booths thumb print on the iPhone’s home button, checked her messages – then woke her up to interrogate her throughout the night as to who everyone was.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Heavens also demanded the pin code on her phone to check her messages and during rows he bit her on the arm and bent her fingers back so far that she thought they might break.

Stacey Booth

Alexander Heavens and Stacey Booth had been in a relationship for six years before it started to sour. Miss Booth (pictured) said she now realises their relationship was ‘not normal’

Heavens admitted to engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship but escaped with a 12 month community order after blaming his offending on drinking too much and snorting cocaine.

Sentencing had originally been deferred last November in order to give him chance to give up drugs and alcohol and to hold down his job in the demolition industry.

He is currently banned from contacting Miss Booth under the terms of a restraining order which had previously been placed upon him.

Judge Martin Rudland told Heavens that he didn’t know what was going on in his life but that he had no doubt that his relationship had come crashing down in a ‘rather dreadful way’.

Manchester Crown Court (pictured above) heard that Heavens had issues with his temper

Manchester Crown Court (pictured above) heard that Heavens had issues with his temper

‘I have no doubt the drinks and drugs played their part upon your behaviour towards her. However you have really made sound efforts to change that and I suspect you feel better for it.

‘Everybody is entitled to a second chance and you have used the opportunity to show the court that you can make something of yourself. I set you that task to see whether you could do that.

‘Rather than go back, you showed that you didn’t let the court down and you have shown you can adjust your lifestyle.’

What does the ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’ law cover?

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship in December 2015.

An offence is committed by repeatedly or continuously engaging in behaviour towards another person that is ‘controlling or coercive’.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the type of abuse covered by the new offence could include a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimidation or stopping someone from socialising, controlling their social media accounts, surveillance through apps and dictating what they wear. 

Women’s Aid describes it as behaviour designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. 

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: ‘Coercive control is at the heart of domestic abuse. Perpetrators will usually start abusing their victim by limiting her personal freedoms, monitoring her every move, & stripping away her control of her life; physical violence often comes later.’

According to the Office of National Statistics In the year ending December 2016, there were a total of five cautions and 155 defendants prosecuted for coercive and controlling behaviour in England and Wales.

The majority of defendants prosecuted for coercive and controlling behaviour were male (97%).

Judge Rudland also warned Heavens that if there was any more trouble, then he would be back before the court.

He added: ‘That’s the last thing I want and the last thing you want. Put this behind you, put her behind you, there are lots more fish in the sea and watch how you go.’

In December the court heard how the couple had been together for six years, but that their relationship had soured in Christmas 2016 after he started to use cocaine and suffered bouts of paranoia.

Prosecutor Rob Smith highlighted that Miss Booth had previously told that Heavens had issues with his temper but that he had never taken it out on her, but that things had started to change when he met new friends in November 2016.

Mr Smith said: ‘He began spending time with these new friends and subsequently taking drugs.

‘He started taking his anger out on her and was paranoid about her actions. The first incident in 2016, the defendant became angry because she was spending time with her family rather than him.

‘They rowed about it and he kept arguing with her about it until he bit her and bruised her upper arm.’

After 2017 his behaviour worsened with her and he began to allege that she had been seeing other men.

Mr Smith said that during arguments he had bent back Miss Booth’s fingers ‘so far that she thought they were going to break’.

He added: ‘When she was asleep he would grab her finger and use it to unlock her phone as it had her fingerprint ID code. He used this to check her phone messages and go through her contacts.

‘He would wake her up and ask who everyone was and keep her up all night. Her work became affected and she became sleep deprived.

‘On one occasion she was going to sleep when he asked her a question about something on her phone, and when he didn’t get a reply he punched her in the face. She remembers being pushed to the kitchen floor, stood on and trampled on.’

On another occasion, the court heard that Heavens had woke Miss Booth up asking for her pin code in order to gain access to her phone.

‘One morning she woke to find him watching pornography on her phone, which he had been doing all night.

‘In March 2017 she found messages suggesting he was seeing someone else. When he responded to her he began screeching at her, ran to the kitchen and he got hold of a knife and held it to his stomach.

‘She tried to calm him down but he was continuing to shout at her so she decided to leave. She was worried he would use the knife on her or himself.’

After he continued to get angry with her, his behaviour worsened to the point where if Miss Booth said something Heavens didn’t like, then he would ‘punch her twice to the face’.

‘She decided she had enough, she said she was shattered and ended the relationship on her birthday in October 2017. When he was arrested he denied all allegations and said it made him laugh to say he was controlling as he had never lay a finger on her.’

In a statement Miss Booth said: ‘I have always tried to help him but he has responded with abuse both physically and mentally. He sent numerous messages, he visited me at home and he would always call me when I was with my family. I did not feel able to change my routine and the whole relationship felt normal at the time, but I now realise it was not normal at all.’

In mitigation defence lawyer Stuart Duke said: ‘He has no interest in this young lady. Time has been a great healer in this case. I don’t think he needs unpaid work as he is working hard anyway – he works full time. This a about understanding, he has done a lot of internal work’.

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