A woman terrorised by her former partner for more than two years knew he would walk from court, despite pleading guilty to torment and stalking charges.
A woman terrorised by her former partner for more than two years knew he would walk from court, despite pleading guilty to torment and stalking charges.

Two years of torment, but abusive ex-partner walks free

A GOLD Coast woman terrorised by her former partner for more than two years knew he would walk from court this week, despite him pleading guilty to a barrage of torment and stalking.

She was right. He did.

Over the course of 28 months, Thomas Douglas Ferry, 74, sent hundreds of emails from 14 different accounts to the woman, her employers, current and former partners and family and friends; used a photo on Facebook to track down where she lived; left her old reading glasses on her car parked at a shopping centre; contacted a real estate agent when she placed her home on the market; and sent a warning to a friend who was selling the woman's car.

Thomas Ferry (centre) leaves Southport court with his lawyer Darren Mahony, of Jacobson Mahony Lawyers (left) , and his current wife.
Thomas Ferry (centre) leaves Southport court with his lawyer Darren Mahony, of Jacobson Mahony Lawyers (left) , and his current wife.

The woman says she only had the house and car on the market to stop him from stalking her.

In the Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday, Ferry, a retired IT specialist, was sentenced to six months prison, wholly suspended for two years.

His lawyer said the New Zealand citizen had terminal prostate cancer, was taking part in a drug trial that had changed his mood, and was at risk of deportation.

"I just lost control of my life," the woman told the Bulletin hours after Ferry was sentenced.

"He will just walk away from court (as if nothing has happened). It doesn't really get us anywhere, there is nothing I can do. You just keep bashing your head against a brick wall."

The woman, who asked not to be named, said she had taken steps to ensure she could not be tracked down again.

The court was told that weeks after the pair broke up, Ferry sent the woman and people she knew emails "almost daily".

The woman, 64, would block Ferry's email address, so he would create a new one. All up he used 14 different email accounts.

He only stopped when police charged Ferry with unlawful stalking in August last year.

Ferry pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of unlawful stalking.

In sentencing Ferry, Magistrate Louisa Pink said of the woman: "She certainly felt monitored and surveilled."

Magistrate Pink said she accepted that none of the emails were threatening or violent but did paint the woman in a negative light.

"It was persistent and it did involve a considerable degree of persistence over that long period of time," she said.

Prosecutor Paula Cavanagh told the Southport Domestic and Family Violence Court: "The defendant (Ferry) has remarried and gotten on with his life but the woman has not been able to."

Ms Cavanagh tried to depict the woman's pain and horror during a two-hour sentencing proceeding.

The woman was sent a barrage of hundreds of emails over a more than two year period. Photo: Luka Kauzlaric
The woman was sent a barrage of hundreds of emails over a more than two year period. Photo: Luka Kauzlaric

She provided only a sample of the emails the woman was sent. All up, there would have been hundreds of pages.

"There were attempts to interfere with her life when selling her car and property and attempts to ensure the defendant knew what she was doing," Ms Cavanagh said.

The court was told that when the women sent an email asking Ferry never to contact her again, he replied: "Why? All is fair in love and war."

Defence lawyer Darren Mahony, of Jacobson Mahony Lawyers, said Ferry had terminal prostate cancer and was taking part in a drug trial.

He said the drug had changed his mood.

Mr Mahony said Ferry was also a New Zealand citizen and ran the risk of being deported.

He told the court that Ferry had undergone counselling, was in a stable relationship and had close ties to the community through the church.

Ms Cavanagh pointed out the emails had continued despite these factors.

Ferry was quiet through a majority of the proceedings but began to cry when Magistrate Pink mentioned references from his family and friends.

The woman told the Bulletin she was frustrated with the system and police were overworked and under-resourced.

The woman has now taken steps to ensure her former partner is not able to find her.
The woman has now taken steps to ensure her former partner is not able to find her.

She said she had gone to them first in 2018 and was told she needed to do a private application for a domestic violence order.

After that was unsuccessful she went back again a year later and was again told to do a private application.

She was again sent away.

It was not until August last year when the woman went to police, this time with a domestic violence advocate, that she managed to talk to a detective.

But she was again told any domestic violence order would have to be a private application rather than one made by police.

"I could not understand how they could process the stalking charge but not the domestic violence order," she said.

But she has no animosity for police, instead calling for more resources.

"They are overworked and don't have the time," she said.

The woman said she was also speaking out to ensure people knew it was not just young women who suffered domestic violence but also older women.

In April, the Bulletin revealed about one in 10 domestic violence order (DVO) applications made in Queensland in the 2019-20 financial year came from the Gold Coast.

On average, more than 365 DVOs are put in place each month.

Despite this, the Premier's office admitted that only a fraction of the funding aimed to tackle violence against women this financial year was allocated to the Coast.

A police spokeswoman said that when the woman went to police it was "deemed that the most appropriate course of action would be a private domestic violence order (DVO) application".

"The QPS takes all reports of domestic and family violence (DFV) seriously and under the

Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, must investigate all DFV reported to police," she said.

"The QPS is committed to protecting and supporting victims of domestic and family violence and holding perpetrators to account."

The spokeswoman said police were able to assist in making DVO applications in all areas of domestic and family violence.

Why people stalk their former partners

MEN who stalk their partners after a break-up do so because they want to remain "in control" of the women and cannot cope with rejection, a domestic violence expert says.

Gold Coast Domestic Violence Prevention Centre CEO Rosemary O'Malley said most women subjected to stalking from former partners had initiated the break-up.

"With stalking men colonise the woman's life because then there is nowhere she can move without them knowing," she said.

"This is his way to continue to control her."

Ms O'Malley said these men often could not cope with rejection so wanted to exert control by continual contact and letting the woman know they knew their movements.

"How do we stop men from punishing their former partners when she decides to end the relationship?" Ms O'Malley said.

"That is the question we have to wrestle with."

She said it was also common for men to continue stalking former partners even when he had started a new relationship.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.  

lea.emery@news.com.au

 

Originally published as Two years of torment, ex-partner walks free