John Matthew Darch: South West man who poured petrol over wife handed extra time behind bars for assault

Carly LadenSouth Western Times
John Matthew Darch
Camera IconJohn Matthew Darch Credit: John Darch/Facebook

The South West man who nearly killed his wife after pouring petrol over her near an open fire has been handed additional time in jail for attacks on the woman so brutal she had been brainwashed into thinking being hit was “normal”.

John Matthew Darch was handed a further four-month jail term after he was convicted of an aggravated common assault charge by the Bunbury Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The court was told Darch had previously been sentenced to a 34-month jail term by the District Court for pouring petrol over his then-wife and threatened to burn her alive all because she would not go to bed when he wanted.

The pair, who have two young children, were drinking next to a fire with a male housemate in the rear yard of their home on October 26 last year when Darch announced he was going to bed.

The 33-year-old flew into a rage when the victim said she was not ready for bed, kicking her in the knee and causing her to fall to the ground screaming.

Darch then struck the victim in the head multiple times using a range of punches and slaps and called her a “piece of s...” and “a crappy mother”.

He then grabbed a jerry can and poured about five litres of petrol over his defenceless wife as she lay just a few metres away from the fire.

After the petrified woman took off her jumper and ran into the house he chased her inside, where the court was told he abused her further, before she managed to flee.

Their children, aged one and three, were in the house at the time while the housemate witnessed the ordeal.

The court was also told Darch and the victim had been married for a number of years and there was a history of family violence dating back to 2016.

It was submitted the sentence for the assault charge presented a totality issue, having already been sentenced by the District Court.

In sentencing, Magistrate Joanne Andretich said she agreed with District Court Judge David McLean’s findings about the dangerous mixing of alcohol and Darch’s psychotropic medication, which he had been taking at the time of offending.

Ms Andretich also acknowledged a victim impact statement that was submitted on behalf of the victim was “really sad” after noting the victim had expressed thoughts that constant violence in a relationship was “normal” and that the children had been present during previous attacks.

“You have to know that this sort of behaviour is really not acceptable,” Ms Andretich told Darch.

“It concerns me that because the children might have witnessed some of the violence they’re more likely to perpetuate it later in life.”

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