‘Rough Sex’ Doesn’t Kill, Domestic Violence Does

Natalie Connolly, 26, was killed by John Broadhurst, 40, who said the injuries he inflicted on her were part of consensual sex...

Natalie Connolly

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Updated on

There has been public outcry following the short sentence handed to a man convicted of killing his girlfriend after what he called ‘rough sex’.

Natalie Connolly, 26, a mother of one, died in December 2016, of acute alcohol intoxication and blunt force injuries. John Broadhurst, 40, admitted to inflicting those injuries, but said they were meted out as part of what reports have called ‘rough sex’, and compared to scenes of 50 Shades of Grey.

Broadhurst and Ms Connolly went out earlier, to a football match and then for a curry. They’d been drinking and taking drugs, and once home, had violent sex.

Ms Connolly started bleeding hours before her death, but Broadhurst didn’t think to call the authorities until later, when he found her body in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of the couple’s shared rented house in Staffordshire. He called 999 to say she was ‘dead as a donut’ and her body was found to have suffered 40 separate injuries.

Birmingham Crown Court had heard during the trial that Ms Broadhurst had told people that her and Broadhurst shared an interest in masochistic sex. The prosecution also argued that Broadhurst had become angry after finding out Ms Connolly had sent explicit texts to an ex.

But the jury didn’t buy that, so Broadhurst hasn’t been found guilty of murder, or of GBH, but of manslaughter. Yes, Broadhurst beat her, but apparently only ‘within the bounds of her masochistic desires’. Yes, he inflicted a blow-out fracture to her left eye, and internal injuries via a bottle of carpet cleaner, but he was cleared, because this was all part of, we’re told to believe, consensual sex.

Broadhurst was instead found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence by leaving Ms Connolly unsupervised and failing to tell emergency services when ‘a risk of death as a result of her condition would have been obvious’.

In sentencing, Judge Mr Justice Julian Knowles said, reports the BBC, that Broadhurst ‘showed blatant disregard for a very drunk and injured woman’ and ‘you left that vulnerable young woman to die in the saddest and most avoidable of circumstances’. He then handed down a sentence of three years and eight months in jail.

Labour MP Harriet Harman has now referred the case to the Attorney General, asking him to consider if this counts as an unduly lenient sentence. She tweeted:

‘He blames her for her own death, says she wanted is violence. She can’t give evidence as she’s dead. Men used to evade murder charge with “nagging & shagging” defense. The 21st century version is the “50 shades of grey” defense. Cannot be allowed to stand.’

There is no doubt that some people enjoy kinky sex. But what sort of kink is it to beat a woman until she is bleeding? What sort of kink is it to break a woman’s eye socket? What kink is it to literally kill a woman, especially when a kink is a sexual act that goes against the norm and, shamefully, there is absolutely nothing not normal about sexualised misogyny that ends in women’s deaths.

Today, the UK Femicide Census announced it findings. Looking at every single murder of a woman by a man in 2017 that isn’t currently under investigation, (that's 139 deaths!) it found that three quarters of all women killed by a man in 2017 were killed by a man they knew. Of the 30 women killed by strangers, 21 were killed in terror attacks.

Other details recorded show that more than half of women killed by a former partner were killed within the first month of separation. And for the first time ever, overkilling - where force or method used was greater than that required to kill the victim - was recorded, and found to be evident in 42% of the cases.

Kate Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, has called on the government to ensure its imminent and overdue domestic violence bill is pushed through, so that the right resources and laws can be provided to help prevent such horrible cases of violence.

‘Time and time again, we hear of cases where a woman has been killed by a man as an “isolated incident”; yet the latest Femicide Census report shows yet again that this is not the case,’ she told The Guardian, ‘The majority of these cases are not isolated incidents. There are too many similarities in the circumstances where women are killed by men.

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