Jude Philip Bell (23) has already been freed from Maghaberry after he was handed a combination order for what Judge Roseanne McCormick KC said was a “very concerning” attack.
In addition to the combination order of three years on probation and 100 hours community service, Bell was also handed a restraining order banning him from being in contact with his victim.
“This was a vicious attack involving not one but two episodes of strangulation which are red flags in all circumstances,” said the Antrim Crown Court judge, warning Bell that “if you continue this course of offending you are blighting your children’s lives…you have the power to stop it.”
Bell, originally from Drapersrown, had admitted a single count of indictable common assault in relation to an incident on 29 January this year.
During her sentencing remarks on Thursday, Judge McCormick recounted how the couple had gone out separately to socialise with friends just a few weeks after their twins were born.
She arrived home first but when Bell came back, “he pushed the front door and her with such force with both hands that she fell backwards, hitting her head on the floor and she began to cry.”
“He locked the door and straddled the victim, holding down her arms by his knees, putting his hand around her throat and squeezing for a few seconds,” said the judge.
When Bell moved in between her legs, the victim “had the opportunity to bite him” and he let go, labelling her “bitch” as she sunk her teeth into his leg.
Bell punched her to the right side of her face but when she got up and tried to get away she fell again and this time, he “kicked her forcefully, once to the vagina and a few times to the bottom and stomach, calling her a stupid bitch,” said the judge.
“Curling into a ball with pain,” the victim stood up and got her phone out to try to summon help but Bell “grabbed her by the throat again, pushed her against the wall” and took the phone from her, putting it into his pocket.
The following morning, there was no mention of the attack which had left the victim bruised and bleeding but Bell left the property when his victim told him her father was coming and he wasn’t arrested for three days but during interviews, he denied the assault.
Judge McCormick told Bell there was a “litany of aggravating features” attached to his offences including:
- the victim had given birth to twins just “a couple of months” beforehand;
- It’s a domestic violence attack “where she should have been safe;”
- Kicked her repeatedly;
- Attempted to strangle her during the “prolonged assault;”
Bell has 69 previous convictions including entries for assault for assault, breaching court orders and assaulting the same victim;
- That he breached a restraining order and
- He was on bail for assault.
In mitigation, Bell had entered a guilty plea and the judge said an extremely important factor was that he had been on remand in prison and had served the equivalent an 11 month sentence.
Illustrating that she had a similar sentence in mind, Judge McCormick explained that would mean Bell would soon be freed with little or no supervision so by imposing the enhanced combination order, he will be supervised for three years and will have to “put something back into the community” during the community service aspect.
Outlining how his probation conditions will include no alcohol, no drugs and not to abuse prescription drugs, the judge warned that any breach would see him back in court and staring at the likelihood of going back to jail.