Vic footstool murder accused acquitted
Gayle Dunlop was so badly beaten on a daily basis by her partner that her face never had a chance to heal.
"It was every day, every single day," the 60-year-old woman told the Victorian Supreme Court of the abuse she suffered from John Reed.
Mr Reed died in hospital in July last year aged 63 after a fight with Ms Dunlop in their Seaford flat.
She was charged with his murder but was acquitted by a Victorian Supreme Court jury on Thursday after they heard of the catalogue of violence she endured for decades. She was also acquitted of his manslaughter.
Ms Dunlop had hit a low point in her troubled life when she met Mr Reed in the late 1980s.
Her nine-week-old son had just died of SIDS.
"We were soul mates straight away," Ms Dunlop, 60, said.
"He showed me love, cuddles, I felt safe and I felt secure with him."
But she didn't forsee then that her low point was about to get even lower.
Her childhood had been characterised by alcohol-fuelled violence, with her mother "covered in bruises all the time".
Her father had never been affectionate - she said - and she was lonely when Mr Reed came into her life.
"He asked me the next day would I be his lady and I said yes."
Soon after, Mr Reed said this to her: "If you love someone set them free. If they don't come back, hunt them down and kill them."
He was beginning to change, but "I was too blind to see it", she said.
"(He) was already isolating me from people and very controlling and everything that I did he controlled.
"If I spoke to a male or spoke to a friend he just got so jealous, like I was his."
In one incident, described by Ms Dunlop to the court, he threw her over a balcony.
"I've managed just to grab on to the concrete part and I was begging him to get me up," Ms Dunlop said.
"He's just looking at me, `Get yourself up, you bitch."
Whenever somebody asked questions about Ms Dunlop's appearance they would move.
By the time of Mr Reed's death they had lived in between 40 and 50 houses.
Their daughter Mika was born in 1990.
One night when "Mika was only a babe in arms" he started yelling for money, punching the wall, shouting "If you don't f***n' give me that card ... I'll kill you".
When Mika was five he broke a glass in Ms Dunlop's arm, dragged her over jagged paving - leaving a trail of blood - and threw her in a wheely bin.
She wasn't allowed to go anywhere without him and developed a "phobia" of people.
If she made doctors' appointments, he would cancel them.
Police attended their Seaford flat on July 1 last year to find Ms Dunlop with a bloodied head.
On July 18, they fought again.
As Ms Dunlop tried to escape Mr Reed grabbed her and said, "You're going f****n' nowhere, you bitch"
"I'll f****n' kill ya'".
Ms Dunlop described a look on his face that she'd seen before.
"It's just like everything just drains away and he just looks like the devil," she said.
"I know that look, that I'm in for one hell of a beating or dead."
He was still leaning over her when she grabbed a footstool, turned and hit him over the head, twice.
"I just wanted to stop him so I could get out the door," she said.