Domestic abuse: Mum held at gunpoint says stalker will reoffend

Rhianon Bragg was held at gunpoint by Gareth Wyn Jones
Rhianon Bragg was held at gunpoint by Gareth Wyn Jones

A woman held at gunpoint for eight hours by her ex-boyfriend believes it is just a matter of time before he offends again when he is released.

Gareth Wyn Jones was jailed in 2020 for four-and-a-half years for holding Rhiannon Bragg hostage overnight after she ended their relationship in 2019.

The stalker is set to be released in days, despite a parole hearing finding he was not safe to be in the community.

Ms Bragg is worried how probation will manage Jones.

She told Radio 4's Woman's Hour: "We are told there are strict licensing conditions, and he has to adhere to these, but my point has always been the consequences for the victim are so much worse.

"It does feel like, not just me, but any victim in these circumstances is a guinea pig."

Ms Bragg previously revealed how Jones, from Rhosgadfan near Caernarfon, ambushed her as she arrived home late at night on 15 August 2019.

"I pulled up, got out of the car, and then from just in front of me, Gareth leapt out from the shadows, shotgun up at my chest," she said.

"I screamed. It was a shock but not a surprise."

The former mechanic, who stalked her and made threats to kill, was wielding a shotgun and wearing camouflage.

Ms Bragg recalled trying to "stay alive, minute by minute".

He will spend five years on licence when freed.

"I have concerns about how probation will manage him, the more you learn about how overstretched they are," Ms Bragg said.

"He does not think he has done anything wrong," Ms Bragg said.

"And if he does not think he has done anything wrong, and he feels he has been locked up incorrectly for four-and-a-half years, and does not take responsibility, I suspect he is much more likely to reoffend."

In a meeting with with Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts and probation minister Edward Argar last week, Ms Bragg said she discussed how long it would take for help to arrive at her home and how easy it would be for police to monitor him.

"There are challenges that come with living rurally that will not necessarily be faced by other people in other environments," she said.

She believed she had no option but to rely on the authorities.

Ms Bragg added: "As and when he breaks licensing conditions, which I fully expect him to do, how quickly will there be a response? How quickly will he be picked up?

"This living with that uncertainty is incredibly hard."

She said the Victims and Prisoners Bill, currently being scrutinised by the House of Lords, needed to focus on victims and consider the difficulties of rural living.

Rhianon Bragg said her ex-partner was controlling and abusive during their five year relationship
Rhianon Bragg's ex-partner was controlling and abusive during their five year relationship

"Too many decision makers have a one-size-fits-all attitude, which is totally unrealistic," she said.

"We do not have the same level of support, we don't have the same level of infrastructure."

If Jones does commit further crimes he could be recalled to prison.

The probation panel said in its report in November: "After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented in the dossier, the panel was not satisfied that release at this point would be safe for the protection of the public."

Jones began harassing Ms Bragg, from Eryri, also known as Snowdonia, and her four children after their five-year coercive relationship ended.

She reported Jones to the police and he was arrested three times and his legally held guns were taken away.

But no further action was taken and his firearms were returned.

Prosecutors later admitted they could have charged Jones three months earlier with harassment and spared Ms Bragg her gunpoint ordeal.

For more, listen to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on BBC Sounds.