Widower used bereavement to trap woman in relationship where he beat, raped her

A widower wickedly used his status as a single dad to trap a woman in an abusive relationship in which he threatened to kill her and repeatedly raped her.

On one occasion, Paul Thomas, 49, attacked his partner so badly that she was left unconscious after he strangled her inside her home in south east London.

Thomas, of Sidcup, Kent, preyed on his victim's good nature and emotionally blackmailed her by using his bereavement against her when they first met in 2017.

On Wednesday, Croydon Crown Court heard how he started to become violent which soon escalated to him throwing her down the stairs, tugging her hair and punching her in the stomach.

Police were first alerted about Thomas back in 2018 when the victim confided in officers and told them how her partner had accused her of having an affair and had assaulted her.

But she didn't want to file a report out of fear of what would happen to his children, the court heard.

It was reported that the victim had become so frightened of Thomas that she started to secretly record him as he goaded her to argue with him and accused her of being unfaithful.

She managed to capture his confession and recorded him admitting to his anger and for previously assaulting her which he said was her own fault.

She took photos of her brutal injuries and even filmed him as he tried to stop her from driving away.

The victim told the court how he would track her movements and stalk her via her phone and threatened her family to make her stay.

In 2019, Thomas made his way to the victim's home in Penge and subjected his victim to a terrifying two-day ordeal between November 7 and November 9.

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He sexually assaulted her, threatened to kill her and strangled her until she lost consciousness – before she eventually found the strength to grab her phone and call 999.

Thomas was arrested as he left the victim's home and was subsequently charged with multiple offences.

Detective Constable Nichola Buckley, the investigating officer, said: “Thomas allowed the victim to believe she was living in a happy relationship until he increasingly coerced her into an ever more submissive role.

“He went on to abuse her mentally, physically and controlled her through fear. She submitted to him in bed – this is not consent – she was not free to say no.

“I want to praise the victim for the courage and strength she showed to fully assist the police in obtaining this conviction and ensuring this dangerous man has now been put behind bars.”

DC Buckley added: “Thomas is a highly dangerous individual who had been quite rightly jailed for a significant period of time.

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"He subjected the victim to significant violence and has shown no remorse for his actions.

"It remains a top priority for the Met to tackle and prevent instances of domestic abuse and sexual assault by putting offenders behind bars and bringing justice to the victims.

"I encourage anyone who has been a victim to contact police. We have specially trained officers who will give advice and take all allegations seriously. You will be supported."

Thomas had previously been found guilty of eight counts of rape, two counts of assault by penetration, threats to kill, actual bodily harm and coercive controlling behaviour at the same court in June, following an 11-day trial.

On Wednesday he was sentenced to a total of 19 years’ imprisonment at Croydon Crown Court.

The judge also made him subject to Notification Requirements for life and issued a Restraining Order.

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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