A VICTIM of domestic abuse has been praised by police.

Mark Higgins from Wincham has been jailed for three years in prison after being convicted of controlling and coercive behaviour.

Cheshire Police sergeant Andrea Ellis, who led the investigation, has commended the bravery shown by the victim and hopes the case will encourage others to come forward.

She said: “This has been a long and complex investigation and I would like to praise the courage and determination that the victim has shown throughout the case.

“During their relationship Higgins subjected the woman to a sustained period of both physical and emotional abuse, controlling her finances, timing her when she left the address and even controlling when she went out and who she was allowed to meet.

“Even after the victim built up the courage to leave him, he continued to try and control the woman and even started to stalk her. Thankfully, as a result of the bravery that the victim has shown, Higgins has now been held accountable for his actions.”

Sergeant Ellis added: “Nobody should have to experience what the victim has been through and if anything can be achieved from this case, I hope that it encourages other victims to come forward.

“Specialist support is available via partner agencies, and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.”

Northwich Guardian: Mark HigginsMark Higgins (Image: Cheshire Police)

Higgins' victim, who asked not to be named, explained that they got together in 2008, with the relationship 'quickly spiralling' into domestic abuse.

“I tried for years to get out of it,” she added.

“After spending 11 years with him, just trying to get back into society has been a lot harder than I expected.

“I just want to feel free but I still don’t.”

READ MORE: ‘He took 11 years from me’ – Domestic abuse victim opens up as controlling ex jailed

Higgins, 39 and of Linnards Lane, controlled her finances, filmed her, timed her when she went out, and accused her of infidelity.

He was arrested in 2019 but continued to stalk the victim until she got a restraining order.

The trial was then delayed due to the pandemic, leaving the victim 'traumatised'.

She said: “The rollercoaster of thinking everything was going to be OK but then having to wait.

“He took 11 years from me so in comparison his sentence is not much. It is not an equal justice but it is justice nonetheless.”

At the sentencing on November 24, the court heard how Higgins refused to acknowledge his wrongdoings, with the pre-sentence reports suggesting he would not be capable of rehabilitation.

The judge described Higgins’ evidence as 'delusional' and labelled him a 'deeply manipulative and cunning individual', adding he made the victim’s life 'a misery'.

He was handed a total three-year prison sentence along with an indefinite restraining order, banning him from entering certain areas in Beeston, Cheshire, and from contacting the victim without a solicitor.

Information can be reported directly to Cheshire Police on 101, or alternatively support is available online at www.openthedoorcheshire.org.uk.