‘His letters to me from prison show he seems not to have taken responsibility for his actions,’ says wife of Sam Pybus
The wife of a man recently sentenced to less than five years in fengsel for choking a woman to death in sex has said the “rough sex defence” trivialises violence against women.
Teesside crown court heard Pybus, who will only have to serve half his sentence in prison, employed “prolonged” pressure to Moss’ neck for tens of seconds or minutes while having consensual sex in the early hours of 7 februar.
Snakker til Den uavhengige, Louise Pybus, an English teacher who was married to Pybus for almost five years but is now divorcing him, sa: “I’m desperate not just for his sentence to be extended, but I want to make sure no other man can use the ‘rough sex defence’, which is just trivialising violence against women and girls”.
Ms Moss’ death comes after the so-called ‘rough sex’ defence was outlawed in the UK at the end of April via the domestic abuse act – with campaigners celebrating the decision to tackle the rising number of killers claiming women died during rough sex in court proceedings.
Increasing numbers of women are being seriously injured and killed in incidents dubbed “sex games gone wrong”. I 1996, two women per year were killed or injured during what the defendants referred to as “consensual rough sex”, but this figure had soared to 20 women by 2016.
Ms Pybus, who lives near Darlington, claimed her husband subjected her to emotional abuse and sexual violence during their relationship.
Hun sa: “A few months ago, I was scared for my safety, and I was trying to get a non-molestation order.”
Non-molestation orders, which can last up to a lifetime, often restrict where abusers can go or whom they can approach, and can be used to prevent a partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence against a victim or their child.
Ms Pybus added: “I’ve blocked him from trying to write to me from prison. His letters to me from prison show he seems not to have taken responsibility for his actions”.
Pybus, who had been seeing Moss for three years, had consumed 24 bottles of Amstel lager over the course of 10 hours that day.
“He left our house while I was asleep upstairs,” his 29-year-old wife told Den uavhengige. “He drove to Sophie’s flat after drinking 24 bottles of beer, that is what the courts have said, but it was more than that. We broke up when he committed that atrocious act”.
She said she had no idea her 32-year-old husband had been having an affair until the police informed her of what had happened – adding that detectives initially told her he had been arrested on suspicion of murder without telling her who the victim was.
Ms Pybus added: “But then two detectives said they needed to interview me again. They said ‘Did Sam ever strangle you during sex?’ He did at the beginning of our relationship and I hadn’t wanted him to. He quickly got the impression I didn’t want to, then it stopped.”
Ms Pybus, who has almost finished a PhD in Linguistics, claimed her husband would manipulate her during their relationship.
“The cheating is not the focus, it is the lack of respect for women that infuriates me,”La hun til. “He had no respect for me at all. He never apologised for anything. He was very good at playing the victim. He couldn’t see things from other people’s perspectives.”
Ms Pybus, who said she did the bulk of the household chores during their relationship, explained the case has had a profound impact on her mental health.
La hun til: “I’m still on sedatives to get to sleep at night. I can’t sleep without them. It breaks my heart that Sophie Moss had two kids who are going to be able to see the way their mum died, and was made out to be responsible for her own death.
“He was exploiting and taking advantage of her. It wasn’t an affair, it wasn’t a relationship, as she was a vulnerable woman.”
The decision to hand Pybus a sentence of less than half a decade in jail sparked a ferocious backlash among politicians, campaigners and members of the public. MPs previously told Den uavhengige the maximum sentence for stealing pets is longer than the jail sentence handed to Pybus – warning his sentencing is “a travesty of justice” which tells women their lives do not matter.
Earlier in the month, the government revealed a new criminal offence of pet abduction will be rolled out after a surge in thefts during the pandemic, but a maximum jail term for the offence has not yet been unveiled. Pet theft presently falls under the Theft Act 1968 with a maximum jail sentence of seven years.
Harriet Harman, the Labour MP who chairs parliament’s joint committee on human rights, wrote to the attorney general earlier in the month to object to the “unduly lenient” sentence – calling for the case to be referred to the Court of Appeal. Suella Braverman, the attorney general, is due to make a decision about the case next week.
Ms Pybus said her husband went from job to job, spending a lot of money, and simply wanted to “lead the single life” – adding that she sometimes could not track him down for days when he was out binge drinking.
La hun til: “If he wasn’t at the pub or at work, he was in bed and the curtains were closed. I love now being able to get up in the morning and just being able to open the curtains.
“It is like a dimmer switch being turned off once you leave them. It takes so long to break away from the manipulation. I can see him for what he is now and that is an emotional abuser and an abuser of women.”
The court heard after Pybus woke up and found Moss naked and unresponsive, he chose not to dial 999 or give her first aid, but instead waited in his car for 15 minutes before driving to a police station to hand himself in.
I 45 per cent of cases where a man kills a woman during sex and alleges she gave her consent, the ‘rough sex’ defence succeeds, which leads to the killing being prosecuted under manslaughter or not even regarded as a crime.
“For decades, for centuries, men’s violence against women has been accepted as just one of those things. There is now a modern twist on this which uses women’s sexual empowerment as a precept by exploitative men who are exercising control over women,” Labour’s Ms Harman previously told Den uavhengige.
“It is a cruel irony women’s sexual empowerment is used against them by their killers.”