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Judge McElholm, sitting in Londonderry Magistrates Court, called for longer jail terms in domestic violence cases after his sentencing powers in a recent case highlighted he could impose a longer sentence on the defendant for hitting a table than he could for hitting his ex-girlfriend.

The maximum jail term for domestic violence cases is currently 6 months, in stark contrast to a sentence of two years in a case involving criminal damage.

Judge McElholm said “We have long passed the point where there needs to be separate domestic violence legislation with enhanced penalties in Northern Ireland of up to twelve months for violent domestic assaults on women and children."

Victims of domestic violence simply cannot be protected when the sentencing guidelines fail to even deter perpetrators from carrying out the abuse. Thankfully there are other remedies victims of domestic violence can turn to. If you have been a victim of domestic violence you may be eligible to apply for a Non Molestation Order against your ex-partner. If this has happened to you, it is important to seek legal advice urgently.

Edwards and Co. Solicitors are an accredited Safe Place, offering a safe and secure environment for any victims of domestic violence to come and seek legal advice.