A wife was thrown in a cell and dragged to court — for asking her husband to help with the chores.
Valerie Sanders claimed she only asked Michael, 58, to vacuum, clean patio doors and not go to the gym so often. But she was prosecuted for “controlling behaviour”. The case was thrown out just before a trial.
Valerie, of Catterick, North Yorks, said: “It’s outrageous.”
She added that she was “treated like a criminal” just for nagging her bodybuilder husband to do some hoovering and claimed he spent hours at the gym or washing his car rather than help out at home.
Two vans and four officers turned up, and 4ft 10in Valerie was charged with “coercive or controlling behaviour” — usually used to protect vulnerable women.
After 14 months of “hell”, the case collapsed this week moments before a trial was due to start.
Cleaning firm boss Valerie said: “It’s outrageous this ever got to court.”
“She used to leave the vacuum out or the polish and wanted me to clean every day because of the dogs.”
The couple met online in 2012 and married two years later.
After being made redundant as a CCTV operator, Michael got a job as a gym manager.
Valerie, who has two grown-up daughters, said he then became obsessed with bodybuilding.
LOCKED IN A CELL
She recalled: “He was training all the time. He was eating five or six meals a day and mushing up all his food in the blender.
“We stopped going out for meals. I was working and he was at the gym from early in the morning until late at night. I just didn’t see him. If he wasn’t in the gym he was washing his car for hours.
“He started to do bodybuilding competitions. It wasn’t attractive. It was like cuddling an ironing board. He started to take Viagra because he said he couldn’t get an erection, blaming the steroids.
“But when he took the tablets it made him sniffy and snotty so I refused to sleep with him.”
Job centre staff carrying out a routine check noticed Michael’s mood had changed for the worse — and he blamed his home life.
In April 2018 staff told police who turned up soon after at their house in Catterick, North Yorks.
Valerie said: “I was taken to the station and locked in a cell. I’ve never been in trouble. I was horrified. I felt like a criminal.”
She was charged the next day and recalled: “I had my house keys taken away. I had to stay at a friend’s mum’s.”
She denied being “coercive or controlling”, insisting: “I’d leave a note asking him to vacuum parts of the house and clean the patio doors. We have two miniature dachshunds. But he would spend four hours cleaning his car – so of course I complained.
“Surely it isn’t controlling behaviour otherwise every married couple would be in court?”
Michael, also a former prison officer, claimed Valerie initially encouraged the bodybuilding — and then the complaints started.
He said: “She said I was training too much and didn’t like the diet I was on.” Michael claimed he had a hormone issue and needed Viagra which “made me congested”.
He went on: “She’d say I couldn’t go anywhere near her like that. That made me feel worse. She didn’t like me cleaning my car. She would leave notes to me about the cleaning. At the finish I was feeling ill.”
The case was listed for trial at Teesside crown court on Tuesday but was dismissed before a jury was sworn in. Valerie’s not guilty plea was accepted in return for a two-year restraining order.
The couple are now divorcing. Valerie said: “17 hours in a prison cell broke my love for him. It’s such a relief it is all over.”
Michael, who is currently out of work, plans to continue on the over-55s bodybuilding circuit.
He said: “There was no love any more. She used to kiss and cuddle her two dogs, but never kissed and cuddled me.”
The CPS said: “We prosecute cases where there is sufficient evidence of coercive and controlling behaviour. In this case, after a key witness decided to no longer support the prosecution, we concluded there was no longer sufficient evidence.”