Man jailed for beating partner after a jury cleared him of previous violence charges

Cory John Wayne Ferguson cried with relief when a jury cleared him of serious violence charges last year.

The tears in the dock of the Dunedin District Court were understandable — the verdicts meant he dodged a potentially lengthy prison term.

But now he is behind bars after repeatedly assaulting the woman the jury refused to believe.

Ferguson, 44, came back before the court this week where this time he was jailed for 10-and-a-half months, after pleading guilty to assault in a family relationship and two counts of breaching supervision.

In July 2020, the defendant was facing a range of serious charges which involved the alleged strangulation of his partner and a claim he broke into a Karitane man’s home and beat him to a bloody pulp while in a jealous rage.

The jury, however, acquitted him of all charges, prompting Ferguson’s emotional response.

This week, the court heard how the near-miss had not set the man on the straight and narrow.

Ferguson first assaulted his partner in March — less than eight months after the jury cleared him.

He was sentenced to supervision, a rehabilitative measure to provide offenders with treatment, often to address substance-abuse, mental-health or other issues.

It had no effect on Ferguson.

On May 13, he breached the terms of the sentence by contacting his girlfriend.

He admitted the transgression and was given a suspended sentence.

“The effect of that was holding that over your head to try and motivate you to comply with conditions,” Judge David Robinson said.

It did not work.

Just nine days later he was drinking with the victim again at her South Dunedin home when he requested a ride to the shop to buy cigarettes.

When the woman refused, Ferguson lunged at her, grabbing her neck and pushing her to the ground.

He climbed on top of her, still gripping her around the throat.

The incident ended when the victim was able to lock him out of the house and call police.

In a statement, she said she was angry about the unprovoked attack and would neither forget nor forgive.

While Ferguson claimed he was committed to changing his ways, the judge questioned his remorse, noting he had engaged in “victim-blaming” when interviewed by Probation.

Counsel John Westgate argued his client should be sentenced to intensive supervision and accommodation in Balclutha had been organised for the defendant.

But Judge Robinson said imprisonment was the only option.

The judge also granted a protection order in favour of the victim.

“You need to distance yourself from this relationship or we’re just going to see each other over and over,” the judge said.

How to get help

If you’re in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you.

• Run outside and head for where there are other people. Scream for help so your neighbours can hear you.

• Take the children with you. Don’t stop to get anything else.

• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

Women’s Refuge: Crisis line – 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 (available 24/7)

Shine: Helpline – 0508 744 633 (available 24/7)

It’s Not Ok: Family violence information line – 0800 456 450

Shakti: Specialist services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and children. Crisis line – 0800 742 584 (available 24/7)

Ministry of Justice: For information on family violence

Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services

White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men’s violence towards women

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