Victims of a vicious domestic abuser’s campaign of sadistic abuse have been left appalled and disgusted the recovery group he was a part of have refused to condemn his actions – because they claimed it would be wrong to judge him.
Recovery Dundee, has revealed it was made aware of Michael McCash’s past of domestic abuse long before he was jailed at Dundee Sheriff Court yesterday.
However the group has continued to defend him, despite his victims harrowing accounts of the abuse they suffered, as well as police branding him a “violent and controlling individual” who committed multiple offences over almost a decade.
McCash, 28, of Benvie Road, admitted threatening, punching, spitting at and choking the women between 2008, 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2016.
Some had knives held to their throats while McCash almost caused one woman to crash her car by yanking the handbrake as she was driving.
He was given a three-year prison sentence, reduced from four for his guilty plea before trial and backdated to December 17, and will be supervised for two years upon release.
He has also been handed non-harassment orders banning him from contacting his four victims for 10 years.
As a personal trainer with his own business, “Dream, Build, Achieve”, McCash had been working with Recovery Dundee in recent years to provide free fitness classes to recovering drug users, having previously abused drugs himself.
Members of the community wished McCash well as he was led down to the cells to start his sentence.
Two members of Recovery Dundee – co-founder Sharon Brand and another who spoke on condition of anonymity – told the Tele they believed it would be hypocritical to have refused to work with McCash.
Sharon – herself a survivor of domestic abuse – said: “Michael has been rehabilitating himself with us – he has been four years in the making (to get where he is now).
“He has been able to be rehabilitated in the community around his peers. He is a perfect example of someone who has achieved his recovery.
“I knew about it from the start of working with him. Nobody was put at risk – he was always with one of us (another member of Recovery Dundee) and we had PVG certificates.
“People told me about him but the person they described is not that person anymore. If they don’t want to accept that I can’t change their minds.
“What he did was wrong and he is being punished for that and he has accepted that. But our point is that for us as a recovery community we couldn’t judge anyone on their pasts – we couldn’t send him away. If we did we would be condemning him.
“It shows people don’t understand what recovery is.”
Her associate added: “He should never have raised his hand to those girls – we’re not saying it shouldn’t have been dealt with. He has never not taken responsibility for it.”
One of his victims, now a 27-year-old mum-of-one, said it was “appalling and disgraceful” that McCash’s abusive history had not been disclosed to the recovery community.
Some of those who had been supported by Recovery Dundee said last month they had not been told about McCash’s past.
The woman said: “I don’t think people wanted to believe he was capable of this because of what he was doing in the community. He plays a good part.
“I agree that people should be given the opportunity to recover from things like drug addictions and alcohol but I don’t agree with the fact that she (Sharon) put other vulnerable people in an even more vulnerable place because she didn’t disclose that history.
“She knew him to be an abuser, if she wants to help somebody recover and be a better person, don’t make out as if they can support other people properly at all until they have fully recovered themselves.”
She added that McCash had given her “two black eyes” for her 21st birthday.
“He’s so confident and quirky and fun outside but he’s not like that behind closed doors.
“I’ve been having nightmares. I’ve almost felt guilty because he’s changed other people’s lives – but he changed mine, so he doesn’t deserve any forgiveness.
“I’ve never forgiven him for what he did to me and the other girls. I get that people deserve second chances but he had two, three, four chances and he used every single one to his disadvantage.
“When you have four victims, that’s not a second chance.”
Another of his former partners said: “He never admitted to anything he has done over that period up until he had to in court.
“He has never admitted it to Dundee, never apologised to any of his victims.
“I’m all for people changing but you can’t just all of a sudden because you want to show you’re a changed person when you have never even owned up to anything.”
The police’s domestic abuse taskforce has welcomed his conviction.
Detective Sergeant Gordon Patullo said: “Michael McCash is a violent and controlling individual who committed repeated and sustained acts of violence against multiple partners over a period of nine years.
“His violent abuse was committed against his partners, women who trusted him.
“However, thanks to their bravery in coming forward and reporting to us, McCash is facing the consequences of his actions.”
‘You have admitted an appalling series of offences’
Solicitors acting for Michael McCash battled in vain to have the personal trainer spared jail.
On Wednesday morning, agent Kevin Hampton said McCash’s work with Recovery Dundee had helped him “turn his life around”.
“He (McCash) is under no illusions that, of course, a custodial sentence is at the forefront of the court’s mind,” he said.
“I am, of course, instructed to ask you to step away. These offences started when he was quite a young man in 2009 and I would ask you to take that into account.
“He was abusing various drugs and alcohol throughout the period these offences were committed.
“He has since turned himself around. I have received various testimonials and all the people concerned accept the behaviour was not acceptable but he is…a completely different person.”
However Sheriff Tom Hughes, sentencing, had previously warned McCash he was facing prison.
He told the abuser yesterday that jail was “inevitable” despite his work rehabilitating others with Recovery Dundee.
Sending the domestic abuser down for three years, he said: “As I made clear to you, you have pleaded guilty to an appalling serious of criminal offences – offences involving your former partners, people that should have been able to rely on you, look to you, to help them through their lives.
“Because of your conduct you’ve had a very detrimental effect on them and it is quite appalling to read what has happened to them. I have to take that into account.”
‘He made a show of himself’
As he was taken away to begin his sentence, Michael McCash turned to reporters sitting in the dock and said: “Change is possible, recovery is possible as well.”
Members of the public called him a “horrible b******” and a “scumbag” as he was led away.
Victims of McCash’s campaign of abuse have expressed their disappointment at his refusal to apologise in court, instead using his “five seconds of fame” to make what they saw as a statement of vanity.
One said: “‘Change is possible, recovery is possible’ – but saying sorry isn’t?
“Until he apologises to the people who’ve been affected that’s not how it works.
“He could have taken that moment to say ‘I’m sorry’ and instead he made a show of himself. He always does, it’s always about him.
“But what about me? What about the other girls? He’s never once apologised for it.
“Admitting guilt isn’t an apology. He could have used that five seconds of fame to apologise for what he’s done.”
Another of his victims added: “Everyone in Dundee knows what he’s done.
“If he is so remorseful why didn’t he use that last five seconds to say ‘I’m sorry for what I’ve done’?”
Anger over failure to notify victims
Victims of Michael McCash’s years-long campaign of abuse have criticised prosecutors for failing to notify them of his sentencing hearing yesterday.
A number of his victims had hoped to attend Dundee Sheriff Court to see McCash go down, believing the hearing was taking place tomorrow.
They had been notified of McCash’s previous court appearance, to plead guilty before Sheriff Tom Hughes, on December 17.
Confusion is believed to have arisen because there had been some discussion of sentencing taking place tomorrow, January 10, before the final date of yesterday was agreed.
One of McCash’s victims felt she had been robbed of closure as a result.
She said: “Seeing him getting sentenced and getting taken down was going to be a bit of closure.
“It is not good enough. I’m going to be making a formal complaint. They have to let us know about every single date he has in court. They are breaking protocol by not telling us.
“The domestic abuse team contacted me and they asked me to help put him to jail. For them not to even bother to contact me and say his sentencing has been changed its hurtful and its disgusting.”
The Crown Office has apologised for the communication failure.
A spokeswoman said: “This is an unfortunate situation and we are sorry for any distress caused to the complainers.
“Court dates are set by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. COPFS were in contact with the complainers ahead of the court date on 17 December.
“Regrettably we did not contact them to confirm the date of 8 January.
“We have been attempting to contact the complainers this afternoon to explain what happened and will write to each of them to confirm the result of the case.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service said: “There never was a hearing scheduled for 10 January.
“At the hearing on 17 December, when the court heard the narration and then adjourned for reports, there was some discussion about the date for the sentencing hearing possibly being 10 January.
“However, this was found not to be suitable and 8 January was selected and advised in court.”