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'Eight months for battering a dog, but battering a woman comes with community service' – Inverness domestic abuse survivor speaks out

By Rachel Smart

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Lisa Horne. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Lisa Horne. Picture: James Mackenzie.

A domestic abuse survivor has claimed there is ‘no justice’ after her attacker avoided a custodial sentence – despite him receiving eight months in prison for harming an animal previously.

Lisa Horne (42), from Inverness, was verbally abused, punched and kicked on the head by her former partner William Allan (54) in 2021.

At Inverness Sheriff Court last August, the sheriff ordered Allan to perform the maximum 300 hours of unpaid community work and to pay his former partner £1000 in compensation and was placed under 18 months of social work supervision and banned from approaching or contacting her for five years.

Lisa Horne after the assault.
Lisa Horne after the assault.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank acknowledged during sentencing: “This in no way fully compensates her for her injuries.”

The sentence came after Allan was jailed in 2021 for eight months after battering a dog over the head with a shovel and then denying responsibility. He was found guilty after a trial at Inverness Sheriff Court.

Ms Horne feels ‘there has been no justice for her’ and now suffers anxiety and emotional distress after the incident.

She said: “There is a lack of support in the system. I feel that women should speak out more, but I see why they don’t. He got eight months for battering a dog, but battering a woman comes with community service.

“He seriously assaulted me and gets 300 hours’ community service and has to pay £1000 compensation: where is the justice in that?”

Having suffered domestic abuse at the hands of Mr Allan, she is now afraid to go shopping alone, despite the non-harassment order.

Lisa Horne after the assault.
Lisa Horne after the assault.

She said: “I am petrified to go to the shops and walk my dog now.

“My nightmares are just horrendous – it’s impacted me so much. My life since this has happened has been restricted, I must rely on my children to go shopping. I’ll call my mum when I’m alone, and I must get someone to come with me if I walk the dog.”

Ms Horne is now urging anyone who is suffering domestic abuse to speak up, even though her experience with the justice system has left her scorned. She took part in The Caledonian Programme which provides safety planning, information, advice and emotional support.

She said: “I just feel the justice system is wrong for women who have experienced domestic abuse. But if anyone is in the same situation, please talk to someone. Tell them the truth. Walk away from it, you will have your dark days and it is hard to walk away but you can do it.

“The Caledonian Programme helped me so much. If it wasn’t for that I would have been so much worse. To learn what domestic violence was, was so important. I thought the behaviour I dealt with was normal. It’s not.”

Lisa Buchanan, manager at Inverness Women’s Aid, said: “The introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 has brought with it many helpful changes to how domestic abuse is investigated and prosecuted and we welcome that. However, although conviction rates remain high, according to the Scottish Government, so too does the incidence of reports.

“Further, the sentencing options open to courts are very broad, ranging from community payback orders to non-harassment orders. In our experience, in cases where there is no custodial sentence, understandably women ask how this is fair. Domestic abuse isn’t a one-time act. The effect of the man you live with controlling and monitoring your every move, using violence or the threat of violence, keeping you short financially, and constantly putting you down, creates psychological and emotional effects which can be felt for years afterwards.

Lisa Horne. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Lisa Horne. Picture: James Mackenzie.

“The sheer strength of will that a woman must have to report and go through the many steps in criminal justice proceedings is nothing short of astonishing, and yet, we must ask ourselves why it still feels like such an uphill battle for justice to be served.”

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland said: “When deciding on a sentence, judges always carefully consider the facts that are presented to the court both by the defence and by the prosecution, and always take into account the unique factors of each case. They carefully consider the circumstances of the particular offence, the impact on a victim and what sentence is most appropriate to help reduce reoffending and protect the public, having regard to relevant sentencing guidelines.”

  • If you have been impacted by this story contact Scottish Women’s Aid – 0800 027 1234 (open 24 hours)

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