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Mum says police only acted when her violent ex held her at gunpoint


Rhianon Bragg has spoken about her ordeal in a bid to help others (Picture: Daily Post/Rhianon Bragg)

A mother who was held hostage at gunpoint overnight by her former partner has spoken about her terrifying ordeal in the hope of encouraging other domestic abuse victims to come forward.

Rhianon Bragg was ambushed by Gareth Wyn Jones as she returned to her rural farmhouse in Rhosgadfan, near Caernarfon, late at night in August 2019.

Wearing camouflage gear and armed with a shotgun, the 57-year-old held Ms Bragg hostage in a barn for eight hours, repeatedly threatening to kill her and leave her four children without a mum.

Ms Bragg said Jones had been controlling and threatening her for a long time before that, but it took being kidnapped for police to finally charge him with an offence.

She added that the ordeal could have been prevented had her complaints been followed up earlier.

Ms Bragg said: ‘What makes me really cross is there is a chance for something to be done about it, but nothing will happen until it’s too late for somebody.

‘And I worry about the level of revenge. Why wouldn’t he do it this time?

‘He said to me that night he has nothing to lose – so I can’t imagine he will feel like he has much more to lose now.

‘I just feel totally unprotected by the system.’

Rhianon Bragg was held a gunpoint by her former partner Gareth Wyn Jones (Picture: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)

Jones’ campaign of harassment intensified when Ms Bragg ended their five-year relationship in April 2019.

Refusing to accept it was over, he began stalking her, bombarding her with messages and turning up unannounced at her home trying to speak with her.

She reported his behaviour to police in May that year, but it was decided no further action would be taken and the campaign resumed.

Worried about what her ex-partner would do next, Ms Bragg had CCTV installed at her home in order to back up her complaints.

It ended up capturing the chilling moment Jones pulled out the shotgun and held it to her chest before snatching her away.

Reliving the ordeal, she said: ‘As I got out of the car, he suddenly jumped out and bang, right in front of me, in his camouflage trousers and jacket and his black leather shooting gloves, he had the barrel of the gun in my chest.’

Ms Bragg’s CCTV captured the chilling moment Jones held a shotgun to her chest (Picture: Rhianon Bragg)

She added: ‘I knew straight away there was nothing I could do, I was completely out of control. He’s bigger and stronger than me, and I knew I couldn’t outrun what comes out the barrel of a gun.

‘One minute he was threatening to kill me, other times he said he was going to kill me before killing himself. I was constantly thinking what I would have to do and say to just get through the next minute.’

After about five hours, Jones decided to leave the barn and forced Ms Bragg to drive them to his home in the village.

She said: ‘As I was getting in the car, he turned around and told me in Welsh that he loved me.

‘I said something like I didn’t know what love was anymore and that was it, his face changed and I thought, I’ve got to do something – so I stepped forward and put my arms around him.

‘I didn’t want to hug him, I was doing it because I had to do something otherwise I’d have been in a lot of trouble.

‘And that was when I felt the shotgun belt he was wearing under his jacket.’

The following morning, Ms Bragg managed to persuade Jones to let her to go to a doctor’s appointment. Finally, alone in the GP’s room, she was able to tell someone what was happening.

The police were called, the surgery was locked down and Jones was arrested in the car park.

Ms Bragg said: ‘As I left his house before going to the GP, I remember he gave me a kiss and I thought, he’s completely delusional.

‘He had just held me at gunpoint overnight but in his mind, everything was alright. How can anybody compute after that sort of behaviour that everything was okay?

‘That itself is an incredibly dangerous aspect of his makeup that a restraining order will do nothing about.’

She gave another example of his coercive behaviour.

Ms Bragg described once chatting with a passing neighbour, who mentioned that Jones had told them she had had an accident and suffered ‘a knock on the head’.

She added: ‘What was the point of that? It’s not just the case that he’s made up a weird lie, what he was doing was very much coercive control.

‘He was laying the foundations so that people were likely to think I wasn’t totally well so if I said anything about his behaviour, perhaps they’d think well, she’s had a knock on the head.’

Ms Bragg pictured with Jones (Picture: Rhianon Bragg)

Jones later pleaded guilty to stalking, false imprisonment, making a threat to kill and a firearm charge and was jailed for four-and-a-half years with an extended licence period of five years.

He was also made the subject of a 10-year restraining order, preventing him from contacting Ms Bragg or going within 800 metres of her home.

But Ms Bragg fears that is not enough to keep her and her family safe following his release.

She said: ‘When he comes out, I am massively at risk. The police told me several times, “you’re so lucky to be alive”.

‘In my mind, unless he is physically kept away from me, my children and whoever his next victim might be, it’s not safe.

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‘The most I can hope for is that the licence conditions which will be discussed nearer to parole will be strengthened so he can’t come back to the village, but I’m terrified they won’t be.

‘You go into this believing in justice and that the law will protect you, and actually one of the things I have learnt is that there is a massive difference between justice and the law.

‘Victims are treated appallingly.’

She went on: ‘If telling my story can heighten awareness about how badly the system treats victims and if it helps just one other person by giving them the strength to do something before this happens to them, then I’ve made a small positive out of a really awful situation.

‘To do nothing if you’ve been given an opportunity feels wrong.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Offenders released on licence are closely monitored and can be returned to prison if they breach strict conditions on where they can travel and who they can contact.’

North Wales Police did not wish to comment.

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