THE SWINDON-based brother of a woman murdered by her ex-partner has welcomed the extension of a government scheme to allow domestic abuse and stalking victims to challenge unduly lenient court sentences.

The unduly lenient sentences scheme enables anyone to refer to the Attorney General’s Office a court sentence they believe to be too light. Only certain crimes, such as murder and GBH, fall within the remit of the scheme.

However, after years of campaigning ministers this week announced the scheme would be widened to include a host of sex offences and the relatively new offence of coercive or controlling behaviour.

Frank Mullane, who runs Swindon-based Advocacy after Fatal Domestic Abuse, welcomed the change. His sister, Julia Pemberton, and nephew William were murdered by estranged husband Alan at their home in Newbury in 2003.

“It has long struck me as plainly wrong that the public could complain about soft sentences for serious fraud but not for the violation of one's partner or other family members,” he said.

“Coercive control is a liberty crime denying people basic rights and resources as well as the opportunity to self-actualise. It includes physical violence. Victims of this pernicious crime need to be protected.”

Robert Buckland, South Swindon MP and Secretary of State for Justice, said: “We are determined that those found guilty of heinous crimes such as child sex offences receive the sentences their actions warrant."