Runaway bride handcuffed

TOOLS of lust turned to those of terror for one estranged couple after a man used handcuffs once enjoyed in “happier times” to physically restrain his wife when she announced she was leaving him for good.

James Desmond Caton yesterday pleaded guilty in the Warwick District Court to one count of deprivation of liberty from an incident which happened in Warwick on May 13 last year.

The court heard the couple, who had separated two years earlier after 18 years of marriage, met on the side of the road to discuss the woman’s intention to move north.

Caton, who appeared before the court on his 48th birthday, had previously tried to talk his wife out of leaving and when she could not be persuaded once again they hugged and he then pushed her to the ground, sat on top of her and placed the handcuffs around her wrists.

The Crown Prosecutor told the court Caton then told his wife he “could not live without her” and threatened suicide with a gun he had in his car. It was later determined no such gun existed.

Caton’s defence counsel stressed the handcuffs were not purchased for use in this incident but were bought three years earlier and were known to the complainant, a fact causing a slight look of discomfort from Judge Jones.

The court heard Caton had a “severe speech impediment” and was using the cuffs as “an act of sheer frustration” in his struggle to be heard.

Judge Jones said the roadside incident was not part of an ongoing domestic violence situation, with the wife admitting to police her husband had never “raised a hand” to her prior to that day.

The court heard the incident was “extremely out of character” for Caton, with the couple maintaining a close relationship until that point and co-parenting their now-18-year-old daughter.

Caton had also made “full and frank” admissions when questioned by police and had even encouraged his wife to report the incident to police after it had occurred.

While Judge Jones conceded the case was one of “exceptional” circumstances, he said the fact Caton had driven from his residence in Dirranbandi to meet his wife in Warwick with the handcuffs in his car had shown some degree of premeditation.

The defence counsel said Caton was essentially illiterate and received only the equivalent of a Year 7 education.

He said Caton was an “extremely hard worker”, employed as a stockman and property manager throughout his entire life.

Judge Jones said yesterday he was also reluctant to record a conviction against Caton, which would force the loss of his firearms licence and make it “extremely difficult” for him to maintain work in the rural sector.

Caton was placed on a $1000 good behaviour bond for two years, coupled with a $1000 fine.

No conviction was recorded.

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