September 2010

Philip Topley given six life sentences after catalogue of vile abuse

THE marks on her face are a reminder of the years of abuse at the hands of her evil partner.

But the mental scars from 15 years of brutality and humiliation suffered by Philip Topley’s long-suffering victim will never heal.

Now aged 34, she will live forever with a lifetime of horrific memories of how he beat her, raped her and made her live a “slave-like” existence from which she couldn’t escape.

Having attempted to kill their unborn son, who later died stillborn, his catalogue of abuse included repeatedly punching her while she was pregnant, breaking her nose with a chopping board, shaving her head and holding her underneath the water in a fish tank while she struggled to breathe.

Topley, 50, is now facing spending the rest of his life behind bars after a judge handed him six life sentences for the most “gross” case of domestic abuse he has ever seen.

But Judge Gary Burrell agreed that Topley’s crimes were so severe, and he posed such a high danger to the public, that his identity should be known.

In a nine-day trial, jurors at Southampton Crown Court heard details of the horrific ordeal suffered by the woman who first met Topley when she was just 14 years old.

She had been taken into his Millbrook Towers home by him and his then wife, to escape the clutches of her father who had sexually abused her.

When police had gone looking for her, Topley had hidden her under a blanket on the balcony.

He then spent months telling her howpretty she was, how he didn’t love his wife before having sex with her when she was just 15.

The girl was moved to a children’s home aged 16, where she discovered she was pregnant with Topley’s child while he was in prison for harbouring her.

On his release they got together, triggering 15 years of violence and sex abuse from which she did not know how to escape.

Giving evidence during the trial, the woman even told how she thought some of the treatment she received from Topley was just “the way a man treats a woman” because she didn’t know anything else.

But Topley’s abuse got worse and he would slap and beat her, sometimes on a daily basis. He also regularly raped her, often as she lay there crying, because if she argued her beatings would be worse.

Jurors were also told how Topley used weapons including a steak knife handle, a bottle and tools to sexually assault her. He would also use a metal pole and his belt to beat her and on one occasion struck her with planks of wood from a bunk bed because he was frustrated.

When Topley was annoyed with her because of how the children were dressed, or if he wasn’t happy with the housework, he would make her stand in the corner of the room for hours on end. Most nights he would also make her change into lingerie and sit and keep him company until he let her go to bed the following morning.

One of the most harrowing ordeals took place in 2006 when the woman was seven months pregnant expecting their sixth child.

The court was told how Topley went mad, “ranting and raving” that the baby boy was not his before putting his hands around her throat and attempting to “manually remove the baby” from inside her. Bragging about what he was doing, he then started punching her about the stomach and drugged her with 15 Prozac tablets as he attempted to kill their unborn child.

Just days later she went into early labour, having suffered agonising pains, but Topley refused to believe her and left her to give birth on the bathroom floor alone, despite her pleas for medical help.

Members of the jury were reduced to tears when they heard the distressing 999 call made by the woman as she tried to revive the stillborn child who was born at 34 weeks, twisted and purple.

The baby was pronounced dead by medics and the woman taken to hospital, but on her return was raped again by Topley who had no regard for her being in pain as she lay crying.

Matters finally came to a head in 2008 when Topley went beserk and lined up an array of tools which he told his partner – who was eight months pregnant with their seventh child – he was going to use to kill her. He rained down punches on her head and stomach and shouted that he again wanted the baby to be born dead.

Her ordeal was heard by their daughter who called police from the upstairs of their Shirley home. Having forced their way inside, officers found the woman heavily bleeding and almost unconscious.

They rushed her to hospital where the baby “miraculously”

survived after an emergency Caesarean , Judge Burrell said.

Jurors spent just a couple of hours before returning unanimous guilty verdicts on all counts of rape, indecent assault, drugging and actual bodily harm. Yesterday they returned a majority guilty verdict on the charge of attempted child destruction.

Anthony Don QC, defending Topley, then said there was nothing to be said on his client’s behalf. He told the court: “There is no excuse or mitigation for them and I don’t put forward any” but went on to mention Topley’s history of depression.

Speaking after the case Detective Constable Claire Carter said: “This is a particularly harrowing case and the trial has been extremely difficult and distressing for the victim, who showed the utmost bravery in giving evidence in court in front of a jury.

“Today’s verdict and sentence shows how seriously the police and the courts take domestic violence offences and serious sexual offences and should reassure the public that such offenders will be dealt with robustly.

“We have got the right result today for the victim. Now she can start to come to terms with the systematic abuse she suffered and begin to rebuild her life.”

What the Judge said

Judge Gary Burrell told Topley he was a dangerous man who had made his partner endure a “slave-like” existence from which she couldn’t escape.

“I don’t think this court has ever seen such a bad or gross case of domestic abuse.

“At a very vulnerable time of her life when her parents had effectively deserted her you befriended her and brought her in to your family. In the early years she had no real family. Her adopted parents had taken no proper interest in her.

“You became her partner and you were the only one she was close to. She knew nothing much other than what came from your company and the relationship she had with you.

“She had no friends of her own, no life outside the one she had with you.

You beat her regularly for anything you considered to be her fault. By this stage she was completely under your control and very frightened of you.

“She was living, unquestionably, a nightmare. Whether she was beaten or sexually abused depended on your whim.

“She has had 20 years or so of violence from you and in the last 10 or 15 years almost on a daily or weekly basis with some sort of injury caused to her with weapons or your hands, together with rape or repeated sexual humiliation.”

Judge Burrell told the court how in 2008 Topley was reviewed by probation staff and still found to pose a high risk of causing serious harm not only to his current partner but also to any future partner.

They cited jealousy as well as manipulative and controlling behaviour.

Parole board reports some months later revealed he showed little remorse for carrying out grievous bodily harm on his partner and described him as a “dangerous person”.

Judge Burrell added: “For the avoidance of doubt you pose a significant risk to members of the public.”

He said: “I can think of few other cases of such a grave nature than these offences,” adding that he had made his partner endure “a lifetime of domination and serious violence” that had left her “a very damaged individual”.

“Her life was made of abject misery, of fearful dominance by you. With you she lived a painful slave-like existence, unable to escape, defend herself or fight back.”

The full list of charges

■ Sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 – 12 months
■ Actual bodily harm – 4 years
■ Actual bodily harm – 3 years
■ Actual bodily harm – 2 years
■ Rape – 8 years
■ Rape – life
■ Indecent assault – 6 years
■ Assault by penetration – life
■ Rape – life
■ Administering a poison or noxious substance – 3 years
■ Assault by penetration – life
■ Attempted child destruction – life
■ Actual bodily harm – not guilty by direction of judge
■ Rape – life
■ Actual bodily harm – 2 years
■ Topley was told he was subject to an Indeterminate Public Protection (IPP) sentence, a form of jail term introduced in 2003.

They are given to people who pose a significant risk to the public.

A judge can impose a minimum term before the defendant can be considered for parole.

In this case, Judge Burrell told Topley he would serve eight years before he could appear before the parole board.

But he warned: “This does not mean you will be released in eight years. It might not be for many, many years – if ever.”

He also placed Topley on the sex offender’s register for life. The remainder of his sentences will run concurrently.