No excuses for ’disgusting’ brutality


By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A 39-year-old Cranbourne father has been jailed after horrifically wounding his long-term partner in a sustained, cruel attack.

Fueled by ice, booze and jealousy, Mark Churchus severely beat the victim’s body and head “in a number of different ways over several hours”, despite her persistent pleas to stop on 18 April 2020.

He pleaded guilty at the Victorian County Court to a string of charges including recklessly causing serious injury.

As part of his brutality, he kicked and broke four of her ribs.

The victim’s lungs collapsed as a result – a potentially life threatening situation. She told him “I can’t breathe. Please stop”.

Churchus replied: “I haven’t finished yet.”

Sentencing judge Daniel Holding on 23 November noted Churchus was “physically dominating” the victim, who was of “small stature”.

The former Berwick Secondary College student had at one point pressed pliers onto both sides of the victim’s big toe.

He threatened to cut off her toes and burn them, power-drill through her hands and feet, and to drag her behind the car and kill her in front of her parents.

She pleaded for Churchus’s dad to help. Churchus grabbed his dad’s phone to prevent a call to police, warning his father he’d be next.

She was bound and gagged, and Churchus’s father told him to “please stop”. Churchus aggressively gripped his father’s throat and threatened to punch him.

Among the woman’s “numerous and serious” injuries were significant bruising and swelling “all over”, particularly to her face and temple, Judge Holding said.

Her ribs and an eye socket were broken, requiring surgery. There was bleeding on her brain.

Yet, Churchus didn’t seek medical help for her, arguing later he didn’t know the full extent of her injuries.

Instead when a mate visited the home, Churchus demanded the victim stay in the bedroom.

She managed to escape with their infant daughter to a neighbour’s home. She was taken to Dandenong Hospital by ambulance, and later to The Alfred.

Meanwhile Churchus drove the victim’s car in search of her.

He crashed into a parked vehicle 120 metres from his home and fled without leaving contact details. His licence was suspended at the time.

Police later seized 12 cannabis plants from a closet and back yard at the home, as well as an air rifle, knuckedusters and flick-knife.

Judge Holding noted in the lead-up to the attack, Churchus had accused his partner of “cheating” on him on an online app.

Churchus told police he quit his job to ensure that she didn’t “sneak off” – though it was later argued he lost his job for “other reasons”.

He had a problem admitting to police what he inflicted on his partner, describing it as an “accident”, that he was “drunk” and what happened was “disgusting”.

“I want someone to beat the s*** out of me,” he told police.

Churchus’s limited criminal history, solid work history, family support, early guilty plea and “genuine” efforts to reform were noted.

His alcohol and meth use at the time weren’t mitigating factors.

Judge Holding said the sentence must be designed to stop other men resorting to physical dominance and violence over their partners.

Churchus was jailed for up to five years, seven months, and eligible for parole in three years, nine months.

This included 580 days already served in pre-sentence custody.