THE so-called "rough sex defence" which allowed killers of women to face lesser charges in court is being changed in a new domestic violence bill.

The phrase “it’s only a domestic” will be consigned to history, the Justice Secretary said, as the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill cleared its latest Commons hurdle on Monday (July 6).

Labour’s shadow Home Office minister Jess Phillips said the passage of the bill through the Commons showed victims “we can hear them”, and paid tribute to mum-of-one Natalie Connolly, who was killed in 2016, aged 26.

Bromsgrove Advertiser: Natalie Connolly was killed in December 2016Natalie Connolly was killed in December 2016

Millionaire businessman John Broadhurst, from Wolverley, admitted manslaughter but was cleared of her murder after claiming she was hurt during consensual sexual activity. He was jailed for just three years and eight months.

Ms Phillips said: "Natalie Connolly's name and story has rung out around this chamber, been told in many newspapers and the bravery of her family will see this law changed.

"Today, I don't want to remember her for how she died, or to allow a violent man to get to say what her story was.

"I simply want to remember Natalie, a brilliant, beautiful, bright mother, sister, daughter."

Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier called for the rough sex defence to be scrapped in the wake Natalie's death.

Speaking last week, Mr Garnier said: "Natalie's death was one that is the stuff of nightmares.

"What we hope to achieve from it is a way to make sure that people take more responsibility for their actions, and that killers get the right sentences, whilst victims get justice.

Bromsgrove Advertiser: John Broadhurst used the 'rough sex defence' and was jailed for three years and eight months for Natalie's deathJohn Broadhurst used the 'rough sex defence' and was jailed for three years and eight months for Natalie's death

"The case of my constituent, Natalie Connolly, and the woeful underperformance of the system with regards her killer John Broadhurst, highlighted a rising menace of justice game-playing by killers and abusers.

"This response by the government is a breakthrough in how we tackle the rough sex defence, but it is also a textbook example of Parliament at its best, with a genuine cross-party approach and a willing government, all seeking the same outcome."

"I am incredibly grateful to Home Office minister Victoria Atkins, who took the trouble to come to Kidderminster, to quietly see for herself the effects Natalie's killing had on her family.

"Her private visit demonstrated an unusual degree of compassion, meeting with the close relatives of Natalie.

"Both Victoria and Justice Minister Alex Chalk have worked tirelessly to protect women.”

Reading comments sent to him by Ms Connolly's father, Alan Andrews, he said: "There is no way that a man should be able to bat away brutal sex violence as just an accident and pave the way to get away with it.

"To cope with her private life being explored in intricate detail on top of the grief of losing her has been unimaginably hard for the whole family.

"Natalie is no longer here to tell us what he did to her or why he left her where he did. One thing is for certain - Natalie didn’t fantasise about being killed or leaving her daughter without a mum that night."

The bill, which now passes to the House of Lords, seeks to give better protection to those fleeing violence by placing a new legal duty on councils to provide secure homes for them and their children.

Ms Atkins outlined moves to stop the use of the rough sex defence, which she told MPs is mainly used by men.

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This follows a long-running campaign to stop abusers who kill their partners from claiming their victims were a willing participant in a sex game gone wrong in a bid to reduce murder charges to manslaughter or get a less severe sentence.

The bill also states, children who see, hear or experience the effects of domestic abuse will be treated as victims under law.

It will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords at a later date.

Ms Atkins told the Commons: “We’ve been clear that there is no such defence to serious harm which results from rough sex.

“But there is a perception that such a defence exists and that it is being used by men, and it is mostly men in these types of cases, to avoid convictions for serious offences or to receive a reduction in any sentence where they are convicted.”