Teacher cleared of using controlling behaviour against ex-girlfriend

Bronnagh Brannigan was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Daniel Harris was cleared at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A Suffolk teacher accused of isolating his former girlfriend from her friends and family by constantly checking her phone and telling her how to dress and wear her hair has been cleared by a jury of using controlling behaviour.

The jury at Ipswich Crown Court took just over an hour to reach their unanimous verdict.

Giving evidence during his trial, 33-year-old Daniel Harris said his relationship with the woman had been intense in the early stages and this had naturally meant she hadn’t seen as much of her friends and family.

He denied stopping her from being part of a rowing team because he didn’t like her spending time with her friends and forcing her to turn down an opportunity to be part of a senior leadership team at the school where she worked as a teacher.

Harris also denied deliberately falling and banging his head at his home in a “tantrum” because he didn’t want the alleged victim to leave his house. “It’s an absurd thing to suggest,” said Mr Harris.

Harris also denied telling the woman she had to look after him after the fall because he had concussion and locking her in his house resulting in her begging to be allowed to leave. “She could have opened the door. I didn’t force her to stay. It didn’t happen at all,” said Harris.

He also denied shoving the woman’s head in water because he didn’t like her straightening her hair to go to work and telling her she shouldn’t wear leggings for work.

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Harris, of  Kendall Close, Bury St Edmunds denied using controlling or coercive behaviour between January 2016 and January 2018.

Marc Brown, prosecuting, claimed Harris, who was seeing another woman at the same time as the alleged victim, as a  “controlling bully” and “emotionally manipulative”.

During the trial, Joe Bird, for Harris, read two character references to the court in which the defendant was described as “good natured, kind and respectful”.

One of the character witnesses said he was shocked by the allegations and said he had never witnessed any controlling or behaviour from him.