Woman assaulted by partner vows to fight for justice reform
A GRANDMOTHER left hiding as blood streamed from her head during a vicious assault, who then watched her attacker's conviction recording be set aside, has vowed to fight for justice reforms.
Buddina woman Louise "Lou" Lander was struck in the arm and head, after her former partner Peter Hollis threw five chairs at her in a drunken attack in 2016.
A more than three-year court process has ensued, which led to three Court of Appeal justices agreeing to overturn the recording of Hollis' conviction, after he raised concerns the conviction would affect his yacht club membership.
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron has since expelled Hollis from the club.
Hollis, 74, pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court in May last year to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm while armed, and fined $5000 with a conviction recorded, before he successfully appealed the recording of the conviction.
The appeal court judgment showed Hollis had claimed the District Court judge erred in finding that the recording of a conviction wouldn't affect his membership of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron and Maroochydore Yacht Club.
Hollis' submissions highlighted the impact a recording of a conviction could have on his economic and social wellbeing, and Justice Boddice found it was likely a recording of a conviction would "materially adversely impact" on Hollis' social and economic wellbeing.
The Courier-Mail reported there was no Maroochydore Yacht Club, and Mooloolaba Yacht Club and Sunshine Coast Yacht Club, where Ms Lander was a member, confirmed Hollis was not a member of their clubs when sentenced.
The Courier-Mail reported Brisbane District Court Judge Vicki Loury, who sentenced Hollis, said the assault was in the context of "some sort of relationship, after a family gathering''.
Judge Loury spoke of the "insidious nature of domestic violence and the prevalence of it in our community''.
She decided to record a conviction "to reflect the serious nature of the offence committed, as it was, against a woman with whom you had some sort of relationship''.
Justice Boddice noted "there was a dispute at sentence as to whether they were in a relationship at the time of the offence".
The sentence proceeded on the basis it was unnecessary to determine the true position.
Justice Boddice also noted the sentencing judge described the applicant's behaviour, for a man of his age and background, as "utterly disgraceful".
Mr Hollis was contacted for comment and made clear he disputed it was a domestic violence incident. He would not comment further at this time.
Justice Boddice said there'd been no error by the sentencing judge in referring to the prevalence of domestic violence, and the fact it was not declared a domestic violence offence did not detract from the relevance of general deterrence in the context of the prevalence of domestic violence.
Ms Lander said the overturning of the conviction being recorded had been a bitter blow, but the decision of the yacht squadron had restored some of her faith in society.
"The police and judicial system needs education and an overhaul for DV matters," she said.
"This is why there's an epidemic.
"It just breaks my heart."
She said it was only when "men stand up to other men and say it's not OK" that real change was achieved.
The mother-of-six, with four daughters and three granddaughters, said she'd spent more than $200,000 on legal fees to-date, but for many victims, they were trapped by their lack of financial resources.
She said her financial status had worked against her too, as she'd been told she doesn't "look like a DV victim" numerous times by police and other support services.
"What's that person meant to look like?" Ms Lander said.
"I bruise and I bleed just like any other woman."
She said she'd been unable to work since the 2016 attack and the legal saga, which had sapped her confidence and eroded trust with her own family.
"It becomes your life. You're always looking over your shoulder," she said.
She said she'd become hypersensitive, and struggled to trust men, while family members had relocated to be closer to her to ensure her safety.
"It takes a massive toll," Ms Lander said.
"I've had to tell my 85-year-old parents (that I'm a domestic violence victim).
"You're so ashamed."
She said the domestic violence system had major flaws at present.
"It becomes my credibility, not what he's done wrong," Ms Lander said.
"This is why women don't do it (report domestic violence)."
Ms Lander said she'd received amazing support since her story became public, but one question which came up regularly, why didn't she just leave, was not easily answered.
"I hoped it would fix itself," she said.
"You don't leave because you love the person, they promise you that they're going to change."
She encouraged other women to look for signs early and at the first indication, get out of a relationship.
"The first sign … it's never OK," the former executive manager, chief-of-staff to former ABC managing director Mark Scott and secretariat for the ABC Board said.
"I guess I wasn't strong enough."
She said all the women she'd met in safe rooms at courthouses over the past few years had all been financially dependent on their abuser.
"Always maintain your financial independence," she said.
The decision to overturn the conviction recording still baffled her.
"I couldn't believe they would overturn a criminal conviction," she said.
"Are we more concerned about the perpetrator's social standing or the victim themself?
"Every time (she goes to court) it's re-traumatising. That's what has to be overhauled."
Ms Lander said she'd offered to meet with the State Government and tell her story, in a bid to improve the system for others.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.