Ashley Wilton of St Benedict’s Street, Norwich, appeared at Norwich Crown Court today (Monday 30 November 2020) and was sentenced to a total of seven years in prison and was also issued with an indefinite restraining order.
He was found guilty of two counts of engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour with two women between 1 November 2017 and 17 February 2020 and between 29 December 2015 and 10 August 2019, two counts of assault on 19 October 2019 and 17 February 2020 and one count of false imprisonment between 1 October 2019 and 31 December 2019 at an earlier hearing.
It follows an incident on 17 February this year when Wilton assaulted a woman at a property in Norwich, detained her against her will and controlled her by withholding her phone and deleting contacts. He also logged into her social media accounts and sent messages to other people pretending to be the victim.
Wilton was arrested at his home address on 21 February and taken to Wymondham Police investigation Centre for questioning. On 23 February 2020, he was charged with one count of controlling and coercive behaviour, two counts of assault and one of false imprisonment. He remained in custody and appeared before Norwich Magistrates’ Court the following day.
In a Victim Personal Statement, the woman said: “I have really struggled with coming to terms with what has happened to me and the fact that the situation shattered who I was and thought myself to be. I hope that in time I will be able to get my life fully back on track but I can honestly say that the last few years have been wasted. It was very traumatic for me.”
Wilton had previously been arrested on 9 December 2019 at a shop in Norwich city centre after another woman told police that he controlled who she saw and where she went, and turned up unexpectedly at her place of work and her home address. He was later released under investigation while enquiries continued and was subsequently charged with one count of engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour.
In her Victim Personal Statement, the second victim said: “Even to this day I still find it very difficult to make friends and talk to people. Due to his actions and behaviour, I started to feel lonely like there was no-one who could help me. For a long time, I did not see a way out. Majority of the time I felt stressed and powerless like I wasn’t important. There were times where I felt numb as I’d been through so much. I felt like I had nothing else to lose.”
Following today’s sentencing, Detective Sergeant Lee Marriner said: “I want to pay tribute to these women who have been incredibly brave. Wilson tried to control their lives, deprive them of their freedoms and deny them their sense of self-worth yet they found the courage to come forward and tell us what had happened. We do not underestimate how difficult this must have been for them.
“Being threatened, intimidated, called names, told who you can and cannot talk to, stopped from going out, harassed and isolated from your friends and family is totally unacceptable. It’s crucial that people know and recognise that this is abusive controlling and coercive behaviour.
“Today’s sentence reflects the severity of his crimes and I hope other people who find themselves in a similar situation or have experienced this same torment will have the courage to share this with us so we can help. You will be listened to and supported.”