Wife of man jailed for less than five years for choking woman to death during 'rough sex' calls for longer sentence

THE wife of a man jailed for less than five years for choking a woman to death during "rough sex" has called for his sentence to be increased.

Campaigners were outraged when Sam Pybus, 32, was given four years and eight months for strangling his secret lover Sophie Moss, 33 at her flat in Darlington.


Attorney General Suella Braverman announced last week that she had asked the Court of Appeal to review the sentence, saying it "appears unduly lenient".

Louise Pybus, who joined campaigners in calling for her estranged husband’s jail term to be lengthened, told The Mail on Sunday: "It’s a step in the right direction of sending a message out – when there is all this collective uproar about violence against women – that it’s not acceptable what Sam did."

The 29-year-old teacher added: "This is about getting justice for Sophie and her family and actually ending the rough sex defence."

Louise's estranged husband had drunk 24 bottles of beer before strangling Sophie, 33, in February this year.

The 32-year-old claimed to have little recollection of what happened but said Sophie had agreed for him to apply “mild pressure” to her neck during sex in the past.

He was originally charged with murder but the Crown Prosecution Service later reduced the charge to manslaughter due to a lack of evidence that he intended to seriously harm her.

He was jailed at Teesside Crown Court last month.

Campaigners blasted the sentence as too lenient – and welcomed the closing of the “rough sex” loophole which has allowed abusers to get reduced sentences by claiming their victims consented to attacks.

Teresa Parker, of Women’s Aid, said: “This low sentence shows exactly why it was so important to outlaw the so-called ‘rough sex’ defence.

“This defence has routinely been used by men who have killed women to secure a lower sentence.

“In 45 per cent of cases in which a man kills a woman during a sexual act and claims she gave her consent, the defence of ‘consent for sexual gratification’ succeeds, leading to lower sentences.

“Four years and eight months for a woman’s life sends out a terrifying message to women living with violent and abusive partners.

“With on average three women being killed by current or former partners every fortnight in the UK, this recent change to the law could not be any more vital and this must be one of the last cases we see like this.”

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s decision to speak to the Court of Appeal came after former Labour Justice Minister Harriet Harman complained about the sentence.

She said Pybus’s "disgraceful mitigation" that Sophie encouraged strangulation during sex made it sound as if it was "her fault".

Ms Pybus, who is studying for a PhD in linguistics, claimed there is "institutional sexism" in police forces across the country and suggested they had treated Sophie like a "second-class citizen".

She added: "I feel with Sam’s case that they just took his narrative and then found the evidence to support him, then investigated Sophie’s past rather than him."

HOW YOU CAN GET HELP:

Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:

  • Always keep your phone nearby.
  • Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
  • If you are in danger, call 999.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
  • Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
  • If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
  • Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.

If you are a ­victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200.

The charity’s email support ­service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected].

Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available every day from 10am-6pm.

You can also call the freephone 24-hour ­National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Pybus had been having a relationship with Sophie behind his wife’s back for three years.

They would meet around six times a year for sex and in the early hours of February 7 this year he arranged to go to her home in Darlington, Co Durham, after he had downed 24 bottles of Amstel lager.

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC told Teesside crown court: "His wife had gone to bed at about 10.30 (pm) and the defendant remained downstairs.

"He made contact with Sophie Moss to travel to her flat to arrange to have sexual intercourse with her.

"At 4.47 in the early hours the defendant walked into Darlington police station having driven there in his car from Sophie's flat.

"He told them he believed he had strangled her but he was unsure she was breathing.

"Officers were immediately deployed and attended the flat. They found Sophie naked and entirely unresponsive.

"All efforts at the scene and at the hospital were unsuccessful and Sophie was declared dead in hospital.”

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