THE bravery of two women and the witnesses who helped bring their abuser to justice has been praised by police and a domestic violence charity.

Dale Foster, also known as Dale Tray, was this week jailed for nine years at Teesside Crown Court after admitting three charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two of false imprisonment.

The 31-year-old, from the Bishop Auckland area, was also given two restraining orders banning him from contacting either of his two victims.

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Det Sgt Tonya Cook said: "I have a huge admiration for our victims and witnesses who have shown real strength to report these incidents to police.

"Durham Constabulary are committed to all victims of domestic violence and we work with our partners to support victims to take a stand against those who exploit and manipulate others. Nobody should have to endure what these victims have. My teams and agencies have worked tirelessly to support our victims and witnesses throughout this case and we will continue to do so."

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, applauded the victims' courage.

She said: "Reaching out for help is a brave step especially when, in the majority of cases, women do not notify the police for fear of being judged and disbelieved.

"Refuge would urge anyone experiencing domestic violence to call the police and also talk to someone they trust- a friend, a relative, your GP or an organisation like Refuge as a way to access help and support.

"All women deserve to be listened to and believed; they deserve to be treated compassionately and respectfully; and ultimately to see violent men prosecuted for their crimes."

She praised Durham police for taking positive measures to arrest and charge Tray.

At Wednesday's hearing, Judge Tony Briggs ordered commendations be awarded to Det Sgt Cook, Investigating Officer David Ripley and Det Con Richard Klein for their work in bringing the case to court.

Victims or anyone concerned about a relative, friend or neighbour who may be suffering domestic violence can contact police on 101.

Alternatively, Refuge and Women's Aid offers specialist support via a freephone 24 hour national domestic violence helpline on 0808-2000247 or visit the website refuge.org.uk