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Man urged partner to take overdose during 13 months of abuse

Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

An abusive boyfriend has been given a jail warning after controlling when his partner could and couldn’t shower, and urging her to take an overdose.

John Torrie subjected his partner to a horrific catalogue of abuse over the course of 13 months, regularly assaulting her and controlling her finances and social life.

The 31-year-old bullied his victim psychologically with vile taunts about her appearance, telling her own family hated her, and even encouraging her to take an overdose and kill herself.

John Torrie.

And Torrie has now admitted his campaign of abuse in court and been warned he is likely to be locked up over his conduct.

‘Heated argument’

Fiscal depute Lucy Simpson told Aberdeen Sheriff Court Torrie and the woman had begun a relationship around eight months prior to the start of the offence in February 2020.

Ms Simpson said the pair had been drinking together at Torrie’s address on February 10 last year when an argument broke out, as a result of which Torrie “threw the complainer out of the address”.

A “heated argument” followed outside and Torrie “threw a suitcase belonging to the complainer to the ground” and they both shouted at each other.

Ms Simpson said: “The complainer sat down on the suitcase outside the property and at that point the accused leaned over the complainer in a threatening manner.

“He thereafter punched her to the head and face with a clenched fist.”

Torrie then contacted police himself and claimed he had been assaulted by his partner.

She disclosed to officers what had happened but did not initially provide a statement. Two days later officers visited her and noted bruising to her left eye, which she confirmed was as a result of the incident.

The relationship continued and the woman stayed at Torrie’s home overnight from September 11 into September 12. Torrie then went out and returned home “angry”, shouting and swearing about losing £450.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Ms Simpson said the woman “felt the accused was blaming her”, told him she had nothing to do with it and he calmed down. But at 9pm the same day he “became agitated once more”.

The fiscal depute said: “He shouted and swore at the complainer about the loss of money.

“At this point the complainer felt the accused was still attempting to blame her for this so made the decision to leave the address.

“She communicated this to the accused who became aggressive, shouting and her and calling her names.”

The woman gathered her things and left but was “followed” by Torrie.

Ms Simpson said: “The complainer got as far as the main door of the flat and the accused punched her to the left side of her face.

“The complainer was shocked and began to cry.”

A witness then observed the woman sitting in the car park while Torrie “wandered around swinging his arms around”.

Police were contacted and officers noted swelling to the woman’s cheekbone.

Torrie was placed in the back of a police van, and attempted to kick an officer to the head.

Ms Simpson said: “On December 3 2020 the complainer was admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary having had an alcohol-related seizure.

“On the evening of December 4 the accused attended at the hospital and persuaded the complainer to discharge herself.”

They attended the woman’s home address and drank alcohol before an argument broke out “in relation to the complainer texting friends of hers”.

The fiscal depute said: “The accused believed the complainer was seeing other gentlemen and became aggressive about this.”

Torrie called her names and grabbed her iPhone and snapped it in half.

He then continued to “verbally abuse” the woman and threw a microphone that had been at the property to the ground, destroying it.

Ms Simpson said: “The complainer repeatedly asked the accused to leave due to his behaviour.

“The accused approached the complainer and repeatedly punched her to the head with a closed fist.

“The accused grabbed the complainer by her upper arms and threw her to the floor.

“She landed on her back, at which point the accused kneeled next to her and repeatedly punched her to the head and body.

“The complainer estimates this went on for approximately 15 minutes before the accused left.”

The woman attended at her father’s home the following day and he noted “extensive bruising to her face”.

An ambulance was called and the woman was taken to hospital with suspected facial fractures, however, Xrays confirmed there were no fractures, just “significant bruising”.

Police made attempts to trace Torrie, who eventually agreed to hand himself in on December 9 and was arrested.

The couple separated following the incident, but around a week later Torrie began contacting the woman again via text.

Despite being “initially pleasant”, his tone quickly changed and “became more abusive towards her”.

Between February 18 and March 18 2021 he sent her “multiple abusive messages”. He called her names and “told her to take an overdose and kill herself”.

Ms Simpson said: “He told her that her family hated her, that she was fat, that she was ugly, and accused her of sleeping with other people.

“The accused’s comments in relation to suspicions she was sleeping with other people were particularly graphic and unpleasant and the complainer was concerned about his level of jealousy.”

Scared to check her phone

The woman was “alarmed and upset” and she “felt the accused constantly messaging her was his way of showing he was keeping an eye on where she was, who she was with, where she had been and what she was doing”.

Ms Simpson said Torrie’s behavior significantly affected the woman’s mental health.

She became “scared to check her phone for fear there were messages from the accused”.

Torrie later told her he “hadn’t meant what he said” and asked her to go to stay at his address so he could “look after her”.

Ms Simpson said: “She felt the accused was attempting to blackmail and coerce her at that point.

“On February 24 the complainer finally relented and attended at the accused’s property.

“She did so because the accused was frightening her and just wanted him to stop.

“At this stage her mental health had deteriorated so significantly she felt she had no choice but to comply with the accused’s requests.”

When she attended Torrie was initially “kind” to her but “quickly reverted to calling her names and behaving in an unpleasant manner towards her.

Ms Simpson said: “The accused at this point began to demand money from her so he could purchase alcohol and other items.”

She added the accused would “follow” her whenever she left his flat, or when he didn’t follow he would call and text her to check where she was.

The fiscal depute said Torrie would often “tell her when to shower and would make comments about her clothes”.

She added: “The accused, during this time, would send the complainer to withdraw cash from her account and would put it in a safe she could not access.

“It’s estimated the accused spent approximately £1,500 of her money on clothes, food, alcohol and other items for himself.”

During the morning of March 19, the pair were in bed and the victim was looking at her phone when Torrie slapped the phone, causing it to strike her face.

She had become increasingly frightened of Torrie’s behaviour and, scared something more serious was about to happen, “fled”.

Torrie then sent her 24 texts which were generally abusive and told her he had “called the police on her”.

At that point the woman contacted police herself.

The charges

Torrie pled guilty to a charge of engaging in a course of behaviour that was abusive of his partner or ex-partner between February 10 2020 and March 19 2021.

The charge states Torrie:

  • Repeatedly shouted and swore at her, threw a suitcase to the ground and repeatedly punched her on the head to her injury.
  • Accused her of taking money.
  • Followed her and punched her on the head to her injury.
  • Encouraged her to discharge herself from hospital.
  • Grabbed her mobile phone and snapped it.
  • Grabbed a microphone and threw it to the ground, damaging it.
  • Repeatedly refused to leave her home when requested.
  • Repeatedly punched her on the head, grabbed her body, threw her to the ground and repeatedly punched her to the head and body to her injury.
  • Repeatedly sent her messages, repeatedly referred to her in derogatory and abusive terms.
  • Repeatedly encouraged her to harm herself.
  • Repeatedly accused her of infidelity.
  • Repeatedly demanded she attend his home.
  • Repeatedly demanded that she recommence their relationship.
  • Repeatedly demanded money and prevented her from having access to her money.
  • Repeatedly controlled what clothes she wore.
  • Repeatedly controlled when she was permitted to wash.
  • Stated that he had reported her to the police.
  • Repeatedly struck her on the body with his hand.
  • Struck a mobile phone, causing it to strike her in the face.

The offence was committed at Brickfield Court, Stonehaven, and elsewhere.

Torrie, of Brickfield Court, Stonehaven, also admitted assaulting a police officer by attempting to kick him on the head, and two charges of failing to comply with bail conditions.

Sheriff Morag McLaughlin deferred sentence for reports but told Torrie: “I have to say, and you won’t be surprised to hear me say, custody is at the forefront of my mind at this stage.”

Defence agent Debbie Ginniver reserved mitigation until the sentencing hearing.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.