A Banff man has been found guilty of domestic abuse in what was described as a seven-year campaign of coercive controlling behaviour.
Stuart Nedley, 33, denied two charges of coercive control and threatening behaviour, which included hiding house keys so his partner was effectively locked inside.
The court heard the couple had been in a relationship for a decade and have three children together.
The woman, who is not being named, gave evidence to say Nedley would “get aggressive” with her whenever she was going about basic household tasks.
“I found things very hard, because I didn’t want to retaliate,” she said. “I did my best not to antagonise him.”
She told the court that Nedley would make comments about what she was wearing, saying her legs were showing if she had worn a skirt or if her bra straps could be seen through her top.
She said: “I adapted my style. I would never change on the spot. But I went from wearing skirts and strappy tops to leggings and hooded jumpers – I didn’t want the confrontation.”
Abuser developed alcohol problem
She also told the court that the family had been involved in a house fire and consequently, she liked to keep keys in the front door to enable a safe exit.
She said: “He would lock the door and hide the keys. When I asked for them, he would tell me to ‘eff-off’ and told me to leave him alone.”
The court heard that Nedley had a cocaine addiction before 2015 when the couple had lived in England. They relocated to the Banff area shortly after that and Nedley then developed a dependency on alcohol.
“He was hospitalised a number of times,” she said.
Eventually, in January 2021, she decided to end the relationship and Nedley continued to have some contact with his children.
During this time, she told the court, he began sending her nasty messages which would say “go and die” and “go and throw yourself under a bus”.
In one incident – which resulted in her calling the police – Nedley had been collecting the children for a visit when he called her a “disgusting whore” in front of them.
Witness backs up abuse claims
Following this Nedley began to drive past her places of work and continued to send threatening messages, all of which she said she had given copies of to the police.
Under cross-examination by Nedley’s defence agent Stuart Beveridge he read out a message she had sent to Nedley in 2015.
In it she had said she loved him and that she felt “peaceful” in his arms.
When questioned about this, she replied: “It was a message I sent to someone I loved.
“I desperately wanted this to work, hence I stayed for 10 years. We were happy at the beginning, but when he became addicted to cocaine he changed as a person.”
Mr Beveridge told the court no threatening messages had been submitted as evidence by the Crown.
Another Crown witness also gave evidence to say she had witnessed some of Nedley’s behaviour as she had nannied for the family.
The woman said: “It was all verbal, there was no physical abuse – it was more controlling. I had to go round twice to unlock the door with my spare key.
“[She] was hysterically crying and having a panic attack – hyperventilating.
“Stuart had hidden the key – I took her out to calm her down.”
Domestic abuser brands claims: ‘nonsense’
Nedley also gave evidence and said all the claims were “nonsense”.
When asked by Mr Beveridge if he had ever sent a message which said ‘go and die’ he replied: “I might have done. I probably did.”
Under cross-examination he denied ever hiding door keys and that he had “never called anyone a lesbian”.
The depute fiscal also asked if he had ever called his ex-partner a “whore, slut or bitch” and he said: “I can’t remember, not a whore – maybe a bitch.”
Mr Finnon concluded by saying Nedley was “self-serving” and was neither credible nor reliable.
Sheriff Robert McDonald said he had found the two female witnesses to be credible and reliable, and added: “There is no doubt they were telling the truth.”
Addressing Nedley he said: “So far as you are concerned, I did not find you credible. Your manner was unclear. I do not accept your denials about your behaviour.
“I am concerned about the messages that relayed threatening and abusive social media messages.
“I really do not doubt that she gave them to the police. I am not comfortable of convicting in this situation where the best evidence is not before the court, even if you admit sending one message.
“I find you guilty of the first charge with the deletion of the wording ‘sending threatening messages’ and guilty as liabled to charge 2 as amended.”
He deferred sentencing to produce reports and Nedley, of Boyndie Street, Banff, was ordered to return to court on March 6.