Brother of prison reform chief jailed for 20-year campaign of violent abuse against her husband avoids jail for trying to get him to drop the case
The brother of a prison reform chief jailed for a 20-year campaign of violent abuse against her husband has narrowly avoided jail for trying to intimidate him into dropping the case.
A judge said the actions of Sean McCann, 44, ‘compounded the abuse already suffered’ by Richard Spencer at the hands of his wife, Sheree, 45.
Mr Spencer suffered a life of misery from a wife who on one occasion defecated on the floor and forced him to clean it up and on another beat him with a wine bottle so badly it permanently disfigured his ear.
However he was commended by a judge yesterday for having the courage to go to court and face McCann as he read out his victim personal statement in person.
He told Stafford Crown Court: ‘When Sean spoke to me on the phone and warned me that he was going to spend every day and every penny he has, ruining my life if Sheree went to prison, I knew I had to take his threat seriously.’
Sheree (pictured left) beat and humiliated Richard (pictured right) throughout their relationship and was jailed for the worst case of controlling behaviour the judge had ever seen
Sean McCann (pictured), is the brother of prison boss Sheree Spencer, 45, who was jailed for subjecting her husband to 15 years of marital torture
Mr Spencer suffered a life of misery from a wife who on one occasion defecated on the floor and forced him to clean it up and on another beat him with a wine bottle so badly it permanently disfigured his ear (pictured Sheree Spencer)
He continued: ‘It was obvious from the phone call that Sean blamed me for the charges against her, so he certainly had a very strong motive to follow through with his threat.
‘Not only that, he has a very well-paid job and claimed to have tens of thousands of pounds in his bank account at his disposal, so he also had the means.
‘Sean’s sister Sheree is currently serving a four-year prison sentence, for what the Judge said was the worst case of domestic abuse she had ever seen. Sean’s declaration that he would ruin my life if Sheree was sent to prison, has been a constant in my mind since she was sentenced, as is the case for my close friends and family.
‘I’m still trying to recover from the effects of the hundreds of physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive episodes that Sheree perpetrated in an incremental pattern of behaviour going back over 20 years.
‘The last thing I need is her brother Sean, or indeed anyone else, threatening to ruin my life further.’
Mr Spencer, 46, was outraged to discover that she was moved to an open prison just eight months into her four-year sentence – and now her brother has walked free on a six month sentence suspended for two years.
He declined to comment after the case, but a friend said: ‘He accepts the judge’s decision.’
Sheree Spencer was jailed for four and a half years at Hull Crown Court in February after admitting controlling and coercive behaviour and assaults
Mr McCann (pictured left) offered his sister’s (pictured right) husband Richard, 46, £100,000 to drop the prosecution case against her, a court heard
Sheree Spencer worked at the top of prison reform and held meetings at Government level – often boasting that former PM Boris Johnson was a personal friend
In October last year as Richard Spencer was preparing to give evidence against his wife in a scheduled trial, he received a call from McCann who, over the course of an hour, tried to bully him into dropping the case.
He offered Richard a £100,000 bribe and also told him: ‘I will spend every day and every penny I have trying to ruin your life.’
Sentencing McCann, who admitted one count of witness intimidation, Recorder Michelle Brown told him: ‘You were very close to going immediately to prison.
‘It is a very serious offence committed against a friend and family member and your actions compounded the abuse he has already suffered.’
The judge said she had been left in no doubt of the torment Richard Spencer had suffered at the hands of his wife, who was jailed for four years in February at Hull Crown Court.
READ MORE: Brother of prison reform boss who was jailed for 20-year campaign of marital abuse ‘offered her husband £100,000 to drop the case against her’ and said he would ‘ruin his life’ if he pursued prosecution
Recorder Brown said: ‘Your brother-in-law was subjected to long term and extensive violence at the hands of your sister who was charged with a number of very serious offences.
‘I have no doubt that Richard Spencer suffered significantly at the hands of Sheree Spencer.
‘During a telephone conversation which lasted an hour you sought to get Richard Spencer to drop the charges.
‘First you employed what can only be described as emotional blackmail asking if he understood the impact the case would have on your sister.
‘You tried to bribe him, offering large sums of money to drop the charges and then said you would spend every day and every penny you owned – which he perceived to be a substantial amount – in trying to ruin his life.
‘I have heard from Richard Spencer who has, despite being subjected to extensive violence at the hands of your sister and intimidated by you, has had the guts to come to court to face you and tell the court how much impact this has had on him and his family. I commend him for that.’
But she said it was clear from a letter that McCann, from Rugeley, Staffs, handed to the court that he felt considerable remorse for the way he behaved and that custody was not the only option.
She imposed the suspended sentence, a restraining order to stay away from Richard and his family for 10 years and ordered McCann pay prosecution costs.
As he left the dock an emotional McCann apologised again for his offending.
McCann gives his job title as Principal Developer with the At The Races racing app, though he left the company in August 2022
McCann and his sister rose from humble beginnings in Sunderland’s Grindon estate to reach the top of their chosen professions – only to see their success come crashing down due to alcohol
He was described in court as a ‘functioning alcoholic’ but despite his drink problems he had held down his well-paid job as a software developer for a major online gambling site.
McCann’s sister is serving the remainder of her sentence in Askham Grange open prison near York.
It means that despite her shocking campaign of violence she is already being integrated back into the community, which Richard Spencer said left him with ‘very little faith that justice has been served.’
Hull Crown Court had heard that in furious tirades his wife would call him ‘tiny c***,’ ‘fat boy,’ ‘a pussy’ and ‘dumb dumb’ and caused bruises and scratches that he would need to cover with make-up before going outside.
For years he secretly recorded video and audio of his wife’s attacks on him and when police became involved he handed over 43 images of his bruised face, taken on different dates following assaults he had suffered.
Judge Kate Rayfield said it was the worst case of controlling behaviour she had ever seen and described her actions as ‘sinister.’
As she jailed her for four years she added: ‘By your actions you intended to humiliate or degrade Richard and you have caused him significant psychological harm.’
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