A London property tycoon was sent to 18 months in jail this afternoon for engaging in coercive or controlling behaviour after failing to grant his wife a Jewish religious divorce.
Alan Moher, 57, and Caroline Moher, who have three children together, separated in 2016 and divorced in the Family Court.
But Moher did not give her a “Get” – a document that formally recognises the end of marriage in the orthodox Jewish faith – meaning she was unable to remarry, have more children or enter into a relationship with another man.
Ms Moher brought a private prosecution for a charge of controlling or coercive behaviour between January 2016 and January last year in what was described as “a landmark case” by her lawyers.
Moher, from Salford, was due to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court last February but changed his plea to guilty.
Anthony Metzer QC, prosecuting, said that Moher has prevented his wife from remarrying by withholding the Get.
He told the court that Moher offered his wife £700,000 in the civil divorce with the Get or £780,000 without it.
He told the court that in August 2015 Ms Moher was “so worn down” by the “psychological and emotional abuse” she had suffered that she attempted suicide.
The court heard that in the process of the attempted suicide, Ms Moher texted her husband to tell him what she had done.
“He replied: ‘What colour do you want your gravestone?’”
On January 22 2016, the day that Moher received a letter from Ms Moher’s solicitor telling him about the divorce proceedings, he told his wife to “piss off”, and “curl up and die”.
The court also heard that Moher had a previous public order conviction after threatening Ms Moher following a family court hearing in Manchester.
“He shouted abuse at her and told her she was going to get what was coming to her.”
A victim impact statement from Ms Moher was read to the court.
“Imagine being put into a straitjacket, gagged, your hands and feet are tied.”Victim impact statement
“You are blindfolded. You are in a cold, dark place. Your only weapon is that you are able to hear. You are dependent on your captor to set you free. That’s how I feel still being married to Alan.”
Jeffrey Israel, defending, said: “My client is a 57-year-old man and aside from a single public order incident I would ask the court to treat him as a man of previous good character.”
The court heard that Mr Moher was entitled to 10% off his sentence due to his guilty plea on the first day of the trial.
Mr Israel asked the court that it be taken into account that the timing of his client’s plea took place after the CPS made a late indication that it would not be taking over the case.
He told the court that his client had asked the CPS if they would take over the case from the private prosecution on February 11 2021.
““It was not until a week or two before the trial that a response was received by the defendant indicating that he would not interfere and that the private prosecution was to continue,” he said.
“So I would ask that you take that into account.”
He asked that the judge also take into account that his client has autism and ADHD.
Judge Martin Beddoe said: “You sought to manipulate and control her all in the knowledge that it would substantially impact her mental health and in some respects also impact her physical health.”
Moher was ordered to pay £11,000 towards the prosecution’s costs.
He admitted one count of coercive control and was jailed for 18 months.
The couple separated in 2016 and a decree nisi was granted by the Family Court the same year but the divorce proceedings were not finalised until 2019.
They remain married under orthodox Jewish law.
After the sentencing, Ms Moher addressed the press outside court.
“My hope is that this case sends clear messages to abusers and their victims”, she said.
“To those who have emotionally coerced and controlled, physically hurt, and dehumanised their spouses – the law will not allow you to get away with your crimes.
“To those victims out there – you are not alone, and justice and humanity are on your side.
“I urge you not to stay silent, but to fight for your freedom.”