Man fined £1,120 for coercive behaviour, assaulting wife in lockdown

Father, 66, who demanded family stay five metres away from him and obey strict time slots to use kitchen during bizarre lockdown regime while going through divorce is fined £1,120 for coercive and controlling behaviour

  • Peter Copland was ordered to pay a £1,120 fine and do 100 hours of unpaid work 
  • The retired engineer, 66, gave time slots for his wife and kids to use the kitchen 
  • Copland also introduced a five-metre rule to stop arguments in the Devon home
  • It came as Copland and his wife were embroiled in a divorce during lockdown   
  • He was convicted of coercive and controlling behaviour and one assault charge 

A father who demanded his family stay five metres away from him during lockdown was ordered on Monday to pay £1,120 in fines for coercive and controlling behaviour towards his family.

Peter Copland, 66, arranged time slots for when his wife and children could use the large kitchen in their family home in Devon, and insisted they kept a five-metre distance from him at all times.

The retired engineer introduced the bizarre measures as he and his wife Maria divorced after 33 years of marriage.

Prosecutor Warjinder Bains said his family had a slot for breakfast before 8.30am, a one hour lunch slot and two hour dinner slot – and the rest of the time they were not allowed in there.

Exeter magistrates found Copland guilty of controlling and coercive behaviour as well as of one charge of assaulting his then wife, and also handed down 100 hours of unpaid community work alongside the fine.

‘We realise this was a very difficult period for all involved,’ the Justices of the Peace (JP) said.

Peter Copland, 66, arranged time slots for when his wife and children could use the large kitchen in their family home 

The court heard how Copland emailed his then wife about the five metre rule and kitchen schedule, as well as transgressing the rules.

Maria said she accepted the demands to avoid further confrontation. 

However, the JPs concluded that Copland’s attitude and demeanour were not a practical and pragmatic approach to the break up and were rather ‘inflexible’ and became ‘intimidating and domineering’.

The prosecution stated that Copland twice assaulted his then wife over a weekend in August 2020.

In one alleged incident, he pushed her backwards after a row in the kitchen. The argument was over the couple’s 18-year-old son having gone to the kitchen for a drink when it was Copland’s turn to use the room.

He claimed he brushed past Maria as she was blocking his exit but then said he did not push past her. 

The argument ended with the couple’s son throwing Fanta over Copland. 

He was cleared of one assault charge but was found guilty of the other, though no restraining order was asked for.

Exeter Magistrates Court was told that two days later, the couple’s daughter came into the kitchen during her father’s slot to grab some keys from a drawer, which led to another argument. 

Under the rules, the couple’s children were meant to knock on the kitchen door before entering if it was not their turn to use the room. 

The couple’s 21-year-old daughter said that her father had introduced a two metre rule before extending it to five.

Copland told the magistrates that his family ‘antagonised and provoked’ him and that he only had one room in the large barn conversion in Paignton, Devon.

He continued: ‘I only had one room. The master bedroom with a dressing room and en-suite. That was my area. There were plenty of other bedrooms and bathrooms and showers in the house.’

He said he worked in Saudi Arabia to pay the £5,000 a month mortgage and claimed his family did not welcome him home, nor give him a hug or respect him when he returned home.

Copland said the house also had a smaller kitchen where the family could have made snacks and coffee outside their allotted times but claimed they instead ‘invaded my space’.        

Copland claimed his family had between four and six hours to use the large kitchen and he had the rest, insisting their were ‘plenty’ or other rooms in the house 

After one bust up, Copland went to their lounge – what was called their ‘safe space’ – and paraded around and taunted them in a tit-for-tat move.

Copland – who has no previous convictions – denied that, but said he did go into the room ‘in the heat of the moment’ and the row led to the Fanta being thrown over his head by his teenage son.

He said of the emails to his wife about the rules: ‘I put everything down logically. Maria could have responded but never did.

‘I have been a loving father for many years. They have not wanted for anything. Respect is a big thing in life.’

The prosecution said he used ‘harsh words’ against his family and acted in a childish way.

He said he had pushed past his wife and she lost her balance and fell backwards.

His former wife told the court: ‘I just wanted him to leave us alone.’

She was accused of ‘persistently breaching the kitchen rules to antagonise him’ and replied: ‘He would say that wouldn’t he.’

She also denied trying to get him out of the house before it was sold. 

The couple’s Devon home has been sold and their divorce finalised, while Copland, who had no previous convictions, now resides in Coalville, Leicestershire. 

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