Upminster man jailed for assaulting and controlling his girlfriend who eventually took her own life

Steven Gane and Kellie Sutton.

Steven Gane and Kellie Sutton. - Credit: Archant

An Upminster man has been jailed for assaulting and controlling his girlfriend who eventually took her own life.

Steven Gane 31, whose last known address was Gadsden Close in Upminster, appeared at St Albans crown court for sentencing today (Monday, March 26) after being found guilty of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship, assault by beating and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Gane’s girlfriend and mum-of-three Kellie Sutton was discovered unconscious at her home in Pollards Close in Welwyn Garden City on August 23 last year after threatening to hang herself, and despite the efforts of paramedics never regained consciousness.

A victim impact statement by Kellie Sutton’s mother, Pamela Taylor, was read out in court by prosecuting lawyer Simon Ash, and detailed the devastating impact the abuse had on 30-year-old Miss Sutton.

The statement said: “Kellie was a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a great-granddaughter and a mother. She was caring, funny, affectionate, bubbly and kind. She didn’t have a bad bone in her body.

“The impact Kellie’s death has had on her children is not fully known.

They will not have their mum as they grow up to turn to for support as children should.

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“As a family we are struggling to come to terms with Kellie’s death. Kellie was so loved and knowing we won’t see her again is still very painful and something I don’t think we will get used to.”

Kellie went to the Urgent Care Centre in Welwyn Garden City on June 3 last year with a 3cm wound on top of her head from Gane assaulting her, and on July 6 he threw her on the floor and choked her because she went out and he did not know where she was.

Sean Minihan, defending Gane, said: “I disagree with this being a category 1 offence. This is not a serious injury in the context of this offence.

“It was a cut to the top of the head and by his own confession it was a hauling off a sofa in temper and a strike to the top of the head against the door frame.

“I do not try to argue that this isn’t an extremely serious case.”

Judge Philip Grey said: “You inveigled your way into her affections and her house and you then sought to dominate and control her. You treated her as a meal ticket that was yours to control. You treated her as a possession. You beat her and you ground her down and you broke her spirit.

“Her texts and Facebook messages show the contempt and hostility with which you treated her. You are by your own admission a jealous man. You regard women as objects to use as you wish.

“You referred to Miss Sutton in crude and abusive terms after her death. There was never the slightest hint of any affection towards Miss Sutton or any sadness about her death.

“Your behaviour drove Miss Sutton to take her own life. She threatened to kill herself. You told her to ‘do everyone a favour and go ahead and do it’.

“Your panicked attempts to get hold of her showed you realised what you had done. You then deleted incriminating messages from her phone and yours.

“The offence was aggravated by the fact that your behaviour was considerably furthered by drink and drugs and your attempt to hide evidence.”

Judge Grey sentenced Gane to prison for four years and three months, which included three months of a suspended sentence for cocaine possession in 2017.

He also imposed a Criminal Behaviour Order, lasting 10 years, requiring Gane to inform police of any sexual relationship he has in future lasting more than 14 days, and to notify police within 21 days of the start of the relationship.