Soldier choked partner until she blacked out
A former special forces soldier has been jailed over the repeated abuse of his ex-partner, who he horrifically assaulted over two years and strangled when she tried to leave him.
Steven Michael Luxford, 37, physically and emotionally abused his ex-partner slamming her into walls and bedheads, spitting on her and threatening to "bury her in a shallow grave" if she tried to flee the relationship.
During a profound statement to the Brisbane District Court Peta-Ann Krogh, 36, detailed how Luxford had "literally taken her voice" after he choked her until she blacked out.
Ms Krogh said during their relationship Luxford would make her dress for work in the garage if she did not "give him what he needed" and faked having terminal cancer when she tried to leave him.
The court heard the former sergeant had also impersonated a police officer, phoning her work in an attempt to get her current address.
Luxford, of North Lakes, pleaded guilty to 14 charges including choking, common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm, making threats and wilful damage he committed while in a relationship with Ms Krogh between 2015 and 2017.
Ms Krogh, who moved to a remote part of Australia to escape her ex, delivered an emotional statement from kilometres away into the Brisbane courtroom through her laptop.
She told Luxford that while she cannot sing like she used to and still feels like she is choking when she wears turtleneck jumpers, she felt he could no longer hurt her.
"Today you don't get to take my voice," she said in a powerful victim impact statement.
"I stand here before the judge and I get to speak my truth without the fear of you harming me anymore."
Barrister Damian Walsh said a psychologist had found a "significant link" between Luxford's offending and post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.
The court heard Luxford witnessed 82 rocket attacks and was dishonourably discharged from the Australian Defence Force in 2015.
"What he saw was horrific," Mr Walsh said.
"He was the subject of combat fights … bombs went off around him, bodies to clean up, suicide.
"It is true she has been traumatised by my client's conduct. But Your Honour has to sentence my client on the basis that he too is traumatised."
Judge Geraldine Dann said while PTSD was one factor, she agreed with the psychologist that there was "more to it than that".
She accepted Luxford had taken steps to rehabilitate but said his violence towards Ms Krogh was too protracted to warrant immediate parole.
Judge Dann said Ms Krogh's statement was "profound in telling of the trauma she experienced both physically and psychologically as a consequence" of Luxford's offending.
Luxford was sentenced yesterday to three and a half years' jail and will be eligible for parole after serving 12 months behind bars.
A domestic violence order was extended until 2025.
Ms Krogh said she was relieved it was over and she hoped her story would encourage others to find their voice.
"As much as receiving justice is incredibly important for my healing process, I truly hope that by me coming forward and following this through until the end, I can give other women the courage to escape or seek their own justice," she said.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in January estimates 3.6 per cent of Queensland women experience partner violence in the past two years.
Over 82 per cent of offenders of family and domestic violence in Queensland were men in the 2018-19 financial year, according to ABS figures.
Researcher Rebecca Pollard is currently undertaking a PhD at Queensland University of Technology and released a paper in July which investigated the relationship between intimate partner violence and the Australian Defence Force.
Ms Pollard said research from the US, Canada and the UK showed that partner violence is 3.5 times the rate of the civilian population and significantly more severe.
"Despite this there is no research in this area within the Australian context," she said.
In the absence of hard data, Ms Pollard analysed submissions made by personnel to an inquiry into mental health of ADF members by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee.
Ms Pollard said she found partner violence was often excused as a symptom of a mental health issue such as PTSD.
"This directs the focus away from the ADF and onto the individual by attributing their actions to mental health conditions or responses to abnormal situations, such as deployment or combat exposure, rather than addressing IPV as an issue in its own right," she said.
Her findings were published in the international Journal of Gender Based Violence.
A statement issued by the Australian Defence Force said the military organisation takes domestic violence seriously and offered a number of "culture change initiatives" including education programs for personnel.
Emergency short term accommodation was offered to ADF members in a domestic crisis and helplines like the Defence Family Helpline and Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office were open 24 hours a day.
A spokesman for Defence said administrative action was taken when a member was charged with a domestic violence offence, but the cases "are few".
"Defence will consider a range of administrative actions where an ADF member has been charged with a domestic violence offence, including suspension from duty or relocation," the spokesman said.
"While there is no automatic consequence of a civil conviction for offences associated with domestic violence, Defence will consider appropriate administrative consequences, up to and including termination of the member's employment."
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
For military members and their families, support and advice is available 24 hours a day through Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608. They can also call Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling 24/7 on 1800 011 046.
Originally published as Soldier choked partner until she blacked out