A woman whose partner’s jail term for stalking her was overturned has revealed it was the fear he might kill someone that drove her to alert police.
Bethany Haines, daughter of murdered aid worker David Haines, watched the man who “stole a year of her life” walk free from prison in January.
Instead of finishing a 21-month jail term, he was released on appeal and will do 200 hours of community service.
Bethany has vowed to change the law to protect victims of emotional abuse.
At just 20 years old, Bethany has endured more than most.
Her aid worker father David was held hostage in Syria for 18 months and then murdered by Islamic State in 2014, when she was just 17.
After leaving school early to have her son Aiden, now two, she found herself in an emotionally-abusive relationship in her late teens.
In October last year, Andrew Murray was jailed for stalking her and for controlling behaviour, over a six-month period in 2016.
The court was told Bethany had been in an on-off relationship with Murray, who was jealous of her male friends and would accuse her of being unfaithful to him.
He was said to have subjected her to a “degrading and humiliating” campaign of abuse for six months while they were in a relationship.
In one incident, Murray ripped up a “treasured” scrapbook dedicated to Bethany’s late father because he was jealous of a photograph of her former partner.
‘Scared and belittled’
Murray repeatedly checked her mobile phone and social media messages, and insisted she remove about 50 male friends from her Facebook account.
He also tampered with her phone contacts list, changing a friend’s number to his own so he received messages sent to the friend by Bethany.
The court was told Ms Haines felt “scared and belittled”.
But on 9 January, Murray’s jail term was dropped at Perth Sheriff Court after appeal court judges ruled the sentence too severe.
Bethany fled the court in disgust. She said: “It was my biggest fear realised, my worst fear in coming forward in the first place – that I wouldn’t be believed.
“When they brought up the community payback order I had to leave the courtroom because it was as if I wasn’t being believed.
“It took a long time for me to come forward and it seems to have been for nothing.”
Bethany had not felt brave enough to press charges until she found out Murray had behaved like this before.
“I learned he had done this to a previous partner,” she said.
“That was the decider because I thought if I left him he would run back to her and do the exact same to her as he’d done to me.
“And his behaviour had escalated so badly in that week I thought if I let him go back he will end up killing someone.
“I decided there and then I was going to walk into the police station and four hours later he was arrested.”
Bethany added: “I had to get my mum to come through – I said: ‘You need to take Aiden for the weekend, things are getting really bad here and it’s coming to a head and I know I need to leave him.
“‘I can’t have Aiden in the house when I do it just in case something goes wrong’.”
“It was seeing my mum take my son away, I thought: ‘I should never have to do that. It’s my job to protect him’.”
Bethany said she was told to leave it after Murray was allowed out of prison, that it was the end of the matter.
But, horrified that her story might put people off going to the police to report abuse, she decided she had to do something about it.
‘More to it than bruises’
Bethany wants to campaign to raise awareness of the damage emotional abuse and intimidation can do, to try to stop this from happening to anyone else.
She said: “I am going to tell my story more and try to help as many girls and boys as possible in my situation.
“I’ve had so many messages from girls going through the same and they are too scared to come forward.
“There is an acceptance of zero tolerance for domestic abuse but that message from the police feels a bit empty now in that there’s a lot more to domestic abuse than bruises – it’s a lot deeper and there’s a lot more to it.”
Bethany says she hopes victims are more easily believed.
“There is a sense of mistrust when you go into a police station to make a statement,” she says.
“I would be willing to talk to the Scottish Parliament and tell them my story to help get things changed.”
Bethany is now attending college and wants to be a trauma counsellor.
But she is still recovering from the ordeal. She said: “The hardest thing was getting back to learn how to have a normal life again.
“I had to ask for permission to do everything – coming out of it I was still asking my mum if I could use the toilet, asking if I could get a drink, go out and see a friend.
“I was asking permission to do all these basic needs. It’s unbelievable somebody can take away all your freedom like that and think it’s okay.”
She also hopes her father would be proud she is taking a stand.
She said: “My dad would be proud to see that I’ve moved on and I want to do something with my life that really matters.”