The owner of a property company has been jailed for 18 months for engaging in coercive or controlling behavior after failing to grant his wife a Jewish religious divorce. Alan Moher, 57, from Salford, and Caroline Moher, who have three children together, separated in 2016 and divorced in the Family Court.
But Moher did not give her a ‘Get’ – a document that formally recognizes the end of a marriage in the orthodox Jewish faith, meaning she was unable to remarry, have more children or enter into a relationship with another man.
Ms Moher brought a private prosecution for a charge of controlling or coercive behavior between January 2016 and January last year in what was described as ‘a landmark case’ by her lawyers. Moher pleaded guilty – and was told by a judge who jailed him on Friday that he ‘sought to manipulate and control her’.
A powerful victim impact statement from Ms Moher was read out, in which she said: “Imagine being put into a straitjacket, gagged, your hands and feet are tied. You are blindfolded. You are in a cold, dark place. Your only weapon is that you are able to hear. You are dependent on your captor to set you free. That’s how I feel still being married to Alan.”
Outside court in a statement, Ms Moher said: “My hope is that this case sends clear messages to abusers and their victims. To those who have emotionally coerced and controlled, physically hurt, and dehumanized their spouses – the law will not allow you to get away with your crimes.
“To those victims out there – you are not alone, and justice and humanity are on your side. I urge you not to stay silent, but to fight for your freedom.”
Moher was due to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court last February but changed his plea to guilty. Anthony Metzer QC, prosecuting, said he prevented his wife from remarrying by withholding the Get.
Mr Metzer told the court Moher offered his wife £700,000 in the civil divorce with the Get, or £780,000 without it.
He said that in August 2015, Ms Moher was ‘so worn down’ by the ‘psychological and emotional abuse’ she had suffered that she attempted suicide. The court heard that in the process of the attempted suicide, Ms Moher texted her husband de ella to tell him what she had done. “He replied: ‘What color do you want your gravestone?’ Mr Metzer said.
On January 22 2016, the day that Moher received a letter from Ms Moher’s solicitor telling him about the divorce proceedings, he told his wife to ‘p*** off’, and ‘curl up and die’. The court also heard that Moher had a previous public order conviction after threatening Ms Moher following a family court hearing in Manchester.
Jeffrey Israel, defending, said: “My client is a 57-year-old man and apart from a single public order incident I would ask the court to treat him as a man of previous good character.” He asked that the judge also take into account that his client has autism and ADHD.
Judge Martin Beddoe said: “You sought to manipulate and control her all in the knowledge that it would substantially impact her mental health and in some respects also impact her physical health.” Moher was also ordered to pay £11,000 towards the prosecution’s costs.
The couple separated in 2016 and a decree nisi was granted by the Family Court the same year but the divorce proceedings were not finalized until 2019. They remain married under orthodox Jewish law.
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