Keir Johnston, the man behind the viral photograph of a dress that “broke the internet,” has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for throttling his wife. The incident occurred in March 2022 on the Isle of Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides, where Johnston, 39, pinned his partner, Grace, to the ground, choked her, and brandished a knife.

Johnston, a petrol station attendant from Moffat in Dumfriesshire, choked his wife for around 20 seconds. During the assault, Grace managed to dial 999 and told the police, “My husband is trying to kill me”, via The Sky News.

Judge Lady Drummond, at Glasgow’s High Court, stated, “Initially she was able to scream. She feared for her life and believed you intended to kill her. You were very forceful. The strangling lasted about 20 seconds. She did not lose consciousness but felt very close to doing so.”

The couple had previously gained worldwide attention seven years ago after a picture of the dress Mrs. Johnston’s mother wore to their wedding was posted online. The dress became known as “the dress that broke the internet” due to a widespread debate over whether it was black and blue, or white and gold. The controversy attracted comments from celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, and Justin Bieber. Ellen DeGeneres even invited the couple onto her US talk show, gifting them $10,000 and a luxury trip to Grenada.

Last month, Johnston pled guilty to assaulting his wife, causing injury and endangering her life. Judge Lady Drummond emphasized the severe impact of his actions, saying, “She suffers in various aspects of her life – emotionally, psychologically, and financially. The impact of your actions will last forever. She cannot understand your lack of remorse or empathy towards her.”

Judge Drummond considered the possibility of community disposal but concluded, “I am afraid the only appropriate sentence for a crime such as this is imprisonment.”

On the day of the assault, Johnston had been drinking at a pub and sent troubling texts to his wife, saying, “You should support me, but you do not.” When Grace arrived home, Johnston expressed his desire for a separation. He then followed her outside, pinning her to the ground while holding a knife. Mrs. Johnston managed to keep her distance, fearing he would stab her.

Prosecutor Chris Macintosh revealed that Mrs. Johnston had been a victim of domestic violence before the 2022 attack. “There is no permanent police presence on the island and she was in a situation where she felt trapped,” Macintosh explained.

Defense attorney Marco Guarino asked Lady Drummond to consider a non-custodial sentence. “There is no attempt to give him an excuse today for what he did,” Guarino stated. “He understands how he came to be in this situation and it is clear from the outset what should have happened as they should have parted. This was a relationship that was far too volatile for each other; it became apparent that their lifestyles were diverging and he was unable to cope with that. He acted in a way where he requires to be punished for it.”

In addition to the prison sentence, Johnston was also given a 10-year harassment order restricting his contact with his wife.



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