Mum finds courage to 'nark' on thug

SEAMUS BOYER
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2012
COURAGEOUS: Bridgette Peacock.
COURAGEOUS: Bridgette Peacock.

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Bridgette Peacock always knew that "narking" on her violent partner wouldn't sit well with some of his fellow gang members.

But after he kicked her unconscious and left her in a gutter, she knew she had to do something – if not for her, then for her kids.

It got to the point where her six children, aged 4 to 15, were so used to the routine violence that "he would be beating me and they wouldn't even flinch, they'd just keep watching TV – it was pretty ugly".

So she decided she had had enough, and in May she gave evidence against partner Michael Kane McRae at a trial in Wellington.

Yesterday, McRae, 31, a Nomads gang member, was sentenced in Wellington District Court to 3½ years' jail on two counts of injuring with intent, and two of assault.

Police and Women's Refuge have praised Ms Peacock's courage, with police saying her determination to speak out was crucial in gaining McRae's conviction.

The charges, which he denied, related to incidents in 2008 and 2010, when he turned on her during arguments, repeatedly punching and kicking her.

On one occasion he dragged her through a Masterton house and threw her on to concrete steps. He then kicked her in the face and left her in a gutter outside the house, while the couple's two eldest children looked on.

She regained consciousness as she was being put into an ambulance, and spent three days in hospital.

Ms Peacock, 34, a Masterton rest-home carer, said it was for her children that she ultimately decided to help police.

"I want them to be innocent children and have a child's life instead of living with this shit," she told The Dominion Post. "Enough is enough, basically."

However, not everyone in the gang was happy with her decision.

"Some of them thought it was about time, but others didn't like it at all," she said.

"Even my two oldest kids have called me a nark."

She admitted she was no angel – she was a long-time Nomad associate with a history of disorderly charges and drink-driving.

On Monday she admitted in court to driving at twice the legal alcohol limit and told the judge she had a drinking problem.

At McRae's sentencing yesterday, Judge Stephen Harrop said she had also played a small part in provoking McRae by throwing a brick at his car and slapping his face before the assaults.

But McRae's response was completely over the top, and the judge doubted his recent expressions of remorse.

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The consequences for Ms Peacock were not just about physical injuries, but about her mental injuries – especially as on one occasion she thought she was going to die, Judge Harrop said.

As McRae had been in custody since November 2010, it was likely he would soon be released.

But despite that, Ms Peacock refuses to leave Masterton, and is not planning on leaving the gang.

"All my family are Nomads – and it's not all like that," she said.

She and McRae had been together for 15 years before splitting up in 2010. Their children now live with her relatives outside Wairarapa.

Detective Sergeant Emma Foote, of the Hutt Valley family violence unit, said partners of gang members rarely co-operated with police.

"This is one of the best results I've ever had. The courage that she showed was amazing."

Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare said her actions were admirable.

"It's a huge step, and a risky step, but obviously she's weighed up the risks. She's given herself and her children a future."

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP:

Women's Refuge 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
Family Violence Information Line 0800 456 450
Wellington Ending Abuse and Violence 04 914 0872
Wellington Rape Crisis 04 801 8973
If in danger, call police on 111.

- The Dominion Post

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