Abuser walks free from court after months of torment for girlfriend

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin

A Wigan man who emotionally and physically tormented his girlfriend, causing her to lose her job and fear for her safety, has walked free from court after being given a chance to change his ways.


John McLaughlin, of Appley Bridge, was told to seek psychological help ahead of his sentencing, which has now been pushed back to October by Bolton Crown Court Judge Timothy Clayson.

The court heard how the 33-year-old, who previously resided at Manning Avenue in Springfield but now lives at Runshaw Avenue in Appley Bridge, handcuffed his partner to him at night for fear she would cheat on him.

Crown prosecutor Mr David Lees told the hearing how McLaughlin subjected his partner to months of emotional abuse, accusing her of letting men in through a downstairs window while he was sleeping.

Mr Lees explained that during their seven-month relationship, the jealousy-stricken man would sit outside the office where his girlfriend worked as a letting agents “for hours”.

“He would turn up at her office unannounced,” said the prosecutor.

“Sometimes he would literally sit there for hours in the car outside to see what she was doing.

“It caused problems for her and she had to leave her job.”

After the tortured woman had quit, the couple moved in together, but the accusations of affairs continued as McLaughlin suspected her of having sexual relationships with her neighbours.

“He used to smell her body as that was ‘evidence’ she was having sex with other men,” added Mr Lees.

The abused partner, who abided his behaviour until June - when McLaughlin assaulted her after an argument, would be locked in the property with no keys to get out of the doors or windows.

When she told him she was worried about her safety and the safety of her seven-year-old daughter in case of a fire, he told her she would have to “smash a window” if she needed to make an emergency escape.

After suggesting he handcuff his partner to him throughout the night so that she could not get away and “cheat”, she purchased a camera solely to show McLaughlin that no one was coming in or out at night.

But as his disturbing behaviour became increasingly concerning, McLaughlin decided to handcuff her to the bed with handcuffs bought previously for “mutual” sexual activity.

He would also use the monitoring box used for discounted car insurance to track her movements when she was out of the house.

The controlling relationship finally came to an end when McLaughlin attacked the terrified mum after she had family and family friends round to their home one evening.

Judge Clayson was told how McLaughlin began accusing his abused partner of cheating on him in front of her family members.

As they left, the woman attempted to go with them but was told she was not allowed to go.

The incident escalated and McLaughlin pushed his partner onto the floor, pushed his head against hers and slammed her into the wall.

Prior to this hearing, McLauglin has admitted to controlling behaviour and common assault against his victim.

Defending, Mr Paul Treble gave the judge documents to prove that McLaughlin has sought psychiatric help.

“It’s not the worst case of its kind,” said Mr Treble.

“He did try to seek help. He knew what he was doing was wrong. The fact that he voluntarily tried to seek help is significant.”

After reading through the supporting documents, Judge Clayson addressed McLaughlin directly.

“You must continue to seek and receive appropriate psychiatric and other mental health treatment,” he said. “In other words there’s got to be some real progress otherwise there is no alternative but custody.

“This type of behaviour poses a very high risk to any other female partner.

“If you are making a responsible and serious effort to sort these issues out you will get a custodial sentence which is likely to be a suspended sentence.

“If I don’t like the picture you are looking at 18 months to two years.”

McLaughlin will appear at Bolton Crown Court at the end of October for his sentencing hearing.