State to call for life sentence in Avril Gordon case

Lee-Anne Butler

THE lawyer representing domestic abuse survivor Avril Gordon said the state would be pushing for her husband Frederick Gordon, her alleged assailant, to receive the maximum sentence – life in prison.

This comes at a time when experts say the level of violence in domestic abuse cases is increasing and have warned victims to get out of abusive relationships before it is too late.

Avril’s lawyer, Beverly Carruthers of Carruthers Attorneys, said she also did not foresee the possibility of Gordon receiving parole because of the extent of Avril’s injuries.

She said she was confident of their chances because the alleged abuse had occurred over a long period of time.

Carruthers said doctors had found underlying injuries that would prove that the abuse was not an isolated or once-off incident.

“The doctors who attended to her have on record how many times her nose was broken, how many times her jaw was cracked. All that evidence is going to be presented and certain other evidence that has not even been released to the press.”

Carruthers said Gordon would appear again some time in September.

Gordon has been in jail since March last year where he is awaiting trial for attempted murder after the horrific abuse Avril suffered for months, including allegedly locking her up in their Forest Hill flat, beating her with a plank and scalding her with boiling water.

At the time, police described it as one of the most horrifying cases of domestic abuse ever recorded in Port Elizabeth.

Carruthers said she would spend a lot of time with Avril this week in order to prepare her for the upcoming trial where she would have to face Gordon again.

Avril has said that she is petrified of facing Gordon again.

“We are going to meet the investigating officer and take her to the high court. We hope to prepare her for the scene by giving her the opportunity to physically sit in court and we will explain the entire process. We want her to be completely prepared,” she said. “This will give her some of the confidence and strength she will need for what is coming,” Carruthers said.

Avril, who now lives in Johannesburg, is back in Port Elizabeth this week to meet Carruthers. She was part of a panel discussion on domestic abuse, hosted by the Sista’s support group, which took place at the Opera House on Saturday.

The Salvation Army Anti-Human Trafficking Board’s Margaret Stafford, who will be counselling Avril this week, said the level of violence reported in domestic abuse cases was increasing dramatically. She said this was the fourth case she had seen with this level of abuse.

“Some progress slowly to be very violent while others start off at a high level of abuse. These women cling to the hope that their partners will change but this does not happen,” she said.

Stafford said there was not enough assistance for victims of domestic abuse, who need constant counselling and, in some cases, do not have financial support after being reliant on their partners for years.

Sharmain Guest, of the Sista’s support group for women, said many had responded to an article published in The Herald last week and Avril had received offers from various optometrists to give her an eye test and much-needed spectacles.

“She also received an offer of dental work, so fortunately she will be going home with glasses and some teeth but she still needs a physiotherapist so hopefully someone will be able to assist us.”

Avril said she had been overwhelmed by the amount of support she had received since returning to Port Elizabeth. She said she wanted to help others who were in similar abusive relationships.

“If you trust a family member or a friend then tell them what is happening. Do not keep it to yourself. Tell someone who you can trust,” she said.

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