Garth Rees, a 22-year old weightlifter/bodybuilder from South Wales, was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of “controlling or coercive behaviour”. The domestic abuse incidents involved two different women. Rees threatened and violently assaulted each women by hitting and strangling them until they lost consciousness.
Some men enjoy being misogynistic assholes. They enjoy physically bullying and intimidating women. They take pleasure in beating up their girlfriends and wives. An extremely small percentage of those men happen to use anabolic steroids.
The steroids obviously did not cause Rees to act with such callous violence. Nonetheless, it is bodybuilders like Rees who make steroid users look bad. Rees’ behavior reinforces the misinformed societal perception of steroids as a drug that causes unconrollable “roid rage”.
The news media tends to write sensationalistic headlines that suggest “roid rage” was behind the attacks. For example, the Daily Sun (UK) headline read “’Bully’ weightlifter, 22, beat, punched and strangled girlfriends he met on Tiner and in gym in ‘roid rage’”. Yet, buried deep within the articles is the revelation that Rees was a cokehead with a daily cocaine habit. But sure, steroids were the culprit.
Rees’ violent actions are reprehensible. He should be held accountable for them. Rees is entirely responsible for his actions. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt absolve him of responsibility by laying the blame at anabolic steroids.
Cardiff Crown Court Judge Jeremy Jenkins chastised Rees and called him a “bully” with “ungovernable temper”.
“Your behaviour demonstrates that you are a man of ungovernable temper,” Judge Jenkins said, “a bully who picks on people physically weaker than yourself.”
Judge Jenkins was appalled at what Rees did to former girlfriend Bethan Thomas-Rowlands in March-April 2018 and his next girlfriend Lily Mainwaring.
Rees met Thomas-Rowlands on Tinder in July 2017. They moved in together by December 2017. Within a couple of months, Rees was calling her a slut, threatening to kill her, pulling her hair, spitting at her, throwing her off the bed by the ankles and strangling her. Thomas-Rowlands finally left Rees in April 2018 after he slammed her against a wall and broke two of her ribs after hitting her in the chest.
Rees met his next girlfriend Mainwaring at a commercial gym located in Bridgend (South Wales) in March 2018. They moved in together several weeks later. Rees regularly insulted Mainwaring’s physical appearance shortly thereafter.
When Mainwaring attempted to leave Rees and start dating someone else in May 2018, Rees physically stopped her by grabbing her by the neck and lifting her up off the ground and pinning her in the corner. Mainwaring decided not to leave and continued living with Rees.
Mainwaring feared for her life as she continued to put up with further abuse. A few days later, Rees grabbed her by the hair and threw her across the room. He proceeded by kicking her in the ribs and waving a knife around in one hand hand while slapping her with the other.
The final straw took place on May 16, 2018 when Mainwaring cooked a warm meal for Rees. When she set it down in front of him at the table, Rees picked it up and dumped it over her head.
Prosecutor Janine Davies also told the court that Rees, during the course of his relationship with Mainwaring, held her head over the open flame of a stovetop burner, stomped on her abdomen and cut her face with a key.
Judge Jenkins decided that 16 months in prison was probably not sufficient to protect Thomas-Rowlands and Mainwaring from Rees. The judge also issued a 5-year restraining order prohibiting Reees from contacting the two women.