'Sadistic’ man who ‘tormented’ wife is first in England to be jailed over get refusal

After Alan Alti Moher’s wife had tried to kill herself, he replied: ‘What colour do you want on your gravestone?’


For the first time an English court has jailed a man for coercive behaviour that included obstructing a get – or religious divorce - for his wife.

Alan Alti Moher received an 18-month sentence at Southwark Crown Court on Friday after having pleaded guilty to one count of coercive or controlling behaviour in a private prosecution brought by his wife Caroline.

 Judge Adam Hiddleston accepted that he had “tormented” Mrs Moher - from whom he has been civilly divorced since 2019 - over a number of years.

The Manchester businessman, who is 57, pleaded guilty in late February to one count of controlling or coercive behaviour which involved using or threatening violent behaviour; exercising unreasonable financial control; and preventing her from obtaining a get.

Leading counsel for the prosecution, Anthony Metzer QC, told the judge at the sentencing hearing that Moher had used “multiple methods of controlling or coercive behaviour, including financial, physical, emotional and psychological abuse to torment his wife over a period of over five years.”

 In August 2015, when Mrs Moher had tried to take her life by overdosing on insulin and told her husband what she had done, he had replied, “What colour do you want on your gravestone?” the barrister said.

In a victim statement, Mrs Moher had said she felt “totally destroyed as person”. She felt that her husband “always behaved like my headmaster and I was the pupil. He always seemed to put the fear of God in me.”

She said she had “lived with so much stress, heartache, responsibility, hurt, upset, fear, panic, depression, loneliness, abandonment, disappointment, despair and suicidal thoughts that I am not quite sure how I am able to stand up tall, with my head held high.”

He was "a sadistic man and has always enjoyed watching me suffer throughout our marriage," she said. "I feel like I have a noose around my neck, a ball and chain at my feet, still being halachically married to him. The problem is always there. I can never forget that I am bound to this monster.”

They were married for 21 years until her civil divorce and have three children.

The day after Moher learned his wife had filed for divorce, he “put his hands around her throat, spat in her face and screamed in her face, making a threat to her life,” Mr Metzer said.

 Six months later, he followed down the road in a car and shouted abuse, telling her she was going to “get what’s coming to [her]” - for which he was convicted of a public order offence, receiving an 18-month conditional discharge.

 Moher had “leveraged his power to grant a get as a way of gaining financial advantage over his wife in proceedings through the Family Court, seeking to use this as a reason not to make the payments required of him,” Mr Metzer said.

 In June, Moher had emailed his wife through his solicitor to offer to grant a get if she accepted £700,000 - otherwise if she wanted £780,000, she could have it without the get.

 Mr Metzer said the prosecution did not accept that Moher had made “any genuine effort to provide the get, notwithstanding any anticipated defence submissions that the responsibility for his refusal to do so lies with any of the Batei Din.

 “The defendant has engineered a position where he may falsely claim to be ‘under duress’ of the courts of England and Wales.”  

 Arguing the case for a suspended sentence, Moher’s counsel Jeffrey Israel asked the judge to take into account that he had serious mental condition on the autism spectrum with an inability to understand non-verbal expressions and difficulty with empathy.

 On the issue of the get, he said Moher had written to the Federation Beth Din to sort things out in June 2021. Rabbi Alan Lewis, the Beth Din’s registrar, had replied, “As criminal proceedings have been commenced prior to a hearing of a Beth Din…. your consent to give a get must be presumed to be given under duress, something which invalidates any get that would be given”.

 When Rabbi Doniel Grunewald (of Jewish Dispute Solutions) had written recently to the Beth Din about the get, it had responded that only after the criminal proceedings were concluded could the rabbinic court assess the case.

On the £700,000 offer, Mr Israel explained, “While outright get refusal is unusual, it is unfortunately common for the granting of a get to be on the table as a negotiating chip within the context of any agreed, negotiated settlement.”

 Speaking after the sentence, Mr Metzer said, “This case demonstrates that victims do have a powerful remedy against those that commit acts of domestic violence and abuse.

 “British law does not ordinarily concern itself with issues of Jewish law. One would hope that no beth din would knowingly sanction or encourage abusive conduct. Criminal sanctions may apply, as in this case, where a defendant deliberately manipulates Jewish custom and practice to cause harm to someone.”

Gett Out UK, which supports “chained women” commented, “Alti admitted to weaponising the get for financial control and justified it by explaining that this abuse is something that many men do in our community. 

 “The shameless admission to systemic abuse in our community is a blemish to say the least. Get abuse has many faces. Communities need to call this abuse out for the shameful mark it is and demand better. 

 “Leaders need to make clear that they will not stand by while Jewish women are abused. Today Caroline saw the beginning of justice, let’s hope her freedom follows imminently.”

According to Jewish law, a get should freely be given by a man and accepted freely by a woman. However, there are circumstances where a Beth Din would order a get to be given and accept that refusal to do so should incur sanctions.


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