A controlling boyfriend who terrorized his partner complained about her visiting her mother while she was battling cancer, used the Find My iPhone app to check up on her and posted a ‘highly intimate’ video of her on Snapchat. Lucas Roberts, now 23, quickly became controlling and abusive towards the girl, after the pair met online when they were both teenagers. She has now been left feeling suicidal and having to take anti-depressants.
For about three years she was subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse as well as violence, as possessive Roberts regularly demanded to know where she was. Ella’s relationship with her mother is still ‘strained’, as she told how she would ‘never forgive’ herself for not being there for her mother as she underwent chemotherapy.
Roberts narrowly avoided jail after admitting displaying controlling and coercive behaviour. The pair first met on Facebook when Roberts was 16, and she was 15. They later met in person and started a relationship which was initially happy, Manchester Crown Court heard.
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But soon after Roberts began to show his controlling side, and would ‘mock’ and ‘belittle’ her in front of others. When she attended her high school prom, she was ‘anxious’ because she feared Roberts would become ‘jealous’ as other boys were there.
Roberts told her that if she had a spray tan, as some of her friends did for the event, that he would break up with her. During the evening he repeatedly contacted her, demanding to know who she was with her and what she was doing.
When she got a job as a nursery nurse in Didsbury, Roberts told her to call him on her breaks. Later he got a job at the same nursery, working there for about a month-and-a-half. He claimed that she had encouraged him to apply because she would get a bonus if he remained in post after his probationary period, but there was also ‘some element of checking up on her’, a judge said.
Roberts was becoming “increasingly oppressive” and she felt “trapped” in the relationship, prosecutors said. After one row Roberts made vile threats. He told her ‘I’m going to get a few guys in a van to rape you’, and also said he would ‘dig up her grandma’s grave de ella and put her in it’.
Roberts would often apologize for his behavior and the couple would make up. She later moved out of her family home and lived with a friend, with Roberts regularly staying over. Her friend of her left after calling the police due to Roberts being violent towards his girlfriend of him.
She later discovered her mother had cancer. After returning from a visit to see her mum, Roberts complained she had been ‘away for too long’.
“She wanted to visit her mother more often, but didn’t do so for fear of annoying Roberts,” prosecutor Brian Berlyne said. On returning home on one occasion Roberts slapped her on her. She told how deeply she regrets that period.
“I feel ashamed of myself that I could watch my Mum go through chemotherapy and lose her hair and still not be there for her,” the victim said. “I will never forgive myself for that. Lucas was so heartless about it.”
Roberts bought her an iPhone, and said she should only use it to contact him. He used the phone’s ‘Find My’ app to track her on one occasion while she was out shopping.
Later he demanded that she send him ‘highly intimate’ naked videos of herself, which he later posted on Snapchat to a group of friends in ‘revenge’ after they broke up. She split with Roberts after going to a festival in the summer of 2019, where she met another man.
When she returned home, she told Roberts about what had happened. He went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and said he ‘wanted to die’. She managed to get the knife off him. Later she decided to call the police and the relationship ended.
However in the weeks after, Roberts began to harass his ex and her new partner, issuing threats and on one occasion turning up outside her house. Roberts also posted the ‘highly intimate’ video on Snapchat to a group of seven people, but deleted it minutes after when participants in the group informed him of their disapproval of him.
The victim told how she was once ‘the joker’ in her group of friends, and had ambitions to work for an airline as a member of cabin crew. But now she takes anti-depressants and said she’d tried to end her life de ella on ‘countless occasions’.
“I don’t think I can put into words the negative effect Lucas Roberts has had on my life,” she said. “I feel like I don’t know myself anymore. I am scared I will never recover.”
Defending, Alistair Reid said Roberts was also young when they first met and he had his own ‘insecurities’ and problems. He had a difficult childhood and has expressed his regret and remorse, the court heard.
Mr Reid said Roberts didn’t realize the hurt he was causing, but accepts that he should have. Roberts wants to get help to become a better partner in the future, and he is working two jobs in kitchens, Mr Reid said.
Judge Timothy Smith said he felt able to avoid sending Roberts to jail, due to his ‘immaturity’ at the time and the rehabilitation work that could be offered by the probation service. Roberts, of Collett Crescent, Blackpool, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years.
He was ordered to complete the Building Better Relationships course, undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and pay his former partner £1,500 in compensation. He also admitted offenses of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment, and disclosing private sexual images with intent to cause distress.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.