News

Ballina woman-basher phoned victim from prison

Benjamin James Cross has been given a lighter sentence on appeal after trying to influence his victim to change her testimony.
Benjamin James Cross has been given a lighter sentence on appeal after trying to influence his victim to change her testimony.

A BALLINA man rang his former girlfriend more than 100 times from Grafton Jail in an attempt to get her to change her testimony about him bashing her.

The barrage of phone calls earned Benjamin James Cross, then 32, a conviction for influencing a witness and a five-year jail sentence with no parole for three years.

But a successful appeal in the NSW Court of Appeal means he will now be eligible for parole after two years, with three years and six months as his total sentence.

Cross and his partner were in a violent relationship and living together in a caravan in West Ballina in 2013.

Cross was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and reckless wounding after assaulting his former partner at their caravan in April 2014.

He was refused bail and held in remand at the Grafton Correctional Centre until his scheduled court date the next month.

Cross called his former partner more than 100 times over a three-week period but many calls went unanswered.

"In a number of them, the offender either advised the victim to withdraw her statement, or alternatively to give false evidence in the proceedings, or otherwise not attend as a witness at the hearing," the statement of facts said.

"On several occasions, the offender would refer to the victim using the false name of 'Kate', instead of the victim's real name... in order avoid detection by Corrective Services."

Transcripts show Cross also phoned a male friend and suggested: "If she turns around and says 'nah, you know, I had psychotic episode and that's what happened... and the police just pressured me into saying, making a statement', well then I'll be let out on that day."

Justice Peter Garling said the original sentence was excessive, noting Cross had been a model prisoner since his arrest.

"There is no suggestion (Cross's) behaviour whilst in custody has been anything other than appropriate," he said.

Cross will be eligible for parole in April next year.

- ARM NEWSDESK

Topics:  ballina court domestic violence grafton correctional centre grafton jail



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