Keir Johnston: Man behind 'dress that broke the internet' craze jailed for attack on wife

The man behind the viral "dress that broke the internet" craze has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for violently assaulting and strangling his wife.

Keir Johnston, 38, pinned partner Grace to the ground, choked her and brandished a knife at their home on the Isle of Colonsay, Inner Hebrides, in March 2022.

Lady Drummond told the High Court in Glasgow that Johnston strangled his wife for around 20 seconds.

The judge said: "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 previously hit headlines across the globe in 2015 when a picture of a dress worn by the mother-of-the-bride at their wedding sparked an online debate over its colour.

Some saw the #thedress as black and blue, which was correct, while others saw white and gold.

Nicknamed "the dress that broke the internet", millions of people across the world got involved in the debate - including celebrities.

The likes of Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber saw black and blue, while Anna Kendrick, Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian saw white and gold.

The Johnstons even appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the US, where they were handed $10,000 and a luxury trip to Grenada.

However, the court heard that Johnston had a history of abusing his wife.

'My husband is trying to kill me'

On the day of the attack, Johnston had been drinking at a pub quiz while his wife was elsewhere.

Prosecutor Chris Macintosh said Mrs Johnston received text messages from her husband, complaining that she did not do enough to support him.

Mrs Johnston, who had days previously visited the mainland for a job, returned home to find her husband asleep.

On waking, he told her that he was going to leave her.

The pair ended up outside, where Johnston pinned his wife to the ground with his knees on her arms. He then began to strangle her with both hands.

A witness heard her screams and tried to pull Johnston away. He initially stopped but returned and was seen clutching a knife.

Lady Drummond said: "You came back outside and threatened to finish her off."

Johnston was also heard saying "somebody is going to die".

Mrs Johnston messaged friends pleading for help, but eventually dialled 999 and told the operator: "My husband is trying to kill me."

Mrs Johnston suffered visible bruising to her neck as a result of the assault.

Defence argued 'love kept them together'

Johnston last month pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife to her injury and the danger of life.

The petrol station attendant, of Moffat in Dumfriesshire, had been remanded in custody by Lady Drummond ahead of his sentencing on Thursday.

Johnston was supported in court by his family and friends, including his mum and new partner.

Defence solicitor advocate Marco Guarino urged Lady Drummond to "go out on a limb" as he appealed for a non-custodial sentence for his client, suggesting a community payback order with "lengthy supervision" alongside a restriction of liberty order.

Mr Guarino said: "Two people who were clearly in love with one another could not exist with each other."

He added: "It became apparent that their lifestyles were diverging."

The lawyer said the pair "should have parted" instead of struggling on, adding: "It was probably their love that kept them together."

Mr Guarino said Johnston had made "no attempt" to shift the blame over the attack and understood the negative impact his actions had made on all those affected.

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Effects of strangulation will 'last forever'

Lady Drummond acknowledged the character references provided and accepted that Johnston had made "positive contributions" to his local community.

The judge also noted that Johnston had worked hard previously, had no other convictions, and suffered from an acute stress reaction and adjustment disorder.

She added that he had taken steps to address his behaviour, including voluntarily attending therapy, and had "shown remorse and insight" when discussing what happened with professionals.

However, Lady Drummond said Johnston had been violent towards his wife before - including attempting to strangle her previously.

The judge said: "It is recognised medically that external pressure applied to the neck by strangulation may lead to unconsciousness, decreased brain function and ultimately asphyxia and death.

"Applying low pressure can cause unconsciousness within five to 10 seconds. Death can occur within a few minutes.

"Strangulation is an inherently dangerous and life-threatening act."

His victim was said to have suffered "emotionally, psychologically and financially".

Lady Drummond said: "She states that the effect of your actions will last forever.

"The only appropriate sentence for a crime of this gravity is imprisonment."

As well as the 54-month jail sentence, Johnston was also handed a non-harassment order prohibiting him from contacting the complainer for 10 years.