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Getting tough on domestic abuse in Norwich

18:00 12 January 2011

close-up of a woman with a black eye

close-up of a woman with a black eye

(c) Stockbyte

Domestic abuse will not be tolerated – that was the hard-hitting message from police chiefs as perpetrators of domestic violence were hauled before the courts.

The warning from police that both they and the justice system in this county has a zero tolerance approach to domestic violence came as a raft of people appeared at Norwich Magistrates Court to face charges relating to domestic violence or abuse.

Of those brought before the courts at least six pleaded guilty to offences relating to domestic offences with one of them jailed and two others warned that they may well face prison. Norfolk police has previously pledged more resources to tackle the crime and in 2009 announced a reshuffle which means they now have a dedicated domestic abuse unit.

Three teams in Norwich, Yarmouth and King’s Lynn are based in the county and extra civilian staff have been brought in to free up detectives’ time so more cases can be dealt with and the perpetrators brought to justice.

In the 12 months up to November 11, 2010, Norfolk Constabulary recorded 3,249 domestic related crimes compared with 2,974 for the same period in 2009. For the same period (12/11/2007 – 11/11/2008) Norfolk Constabulary recorded 2853 domestic-related crimes.

Detective Sergeant Ian Fox, from the force’s domestic violence unit, said: “We take a robust stance against all reports of domestic abuse and Norfolk Constabulary is fully committed to bringing offenders to justice.

“The number of offences reported has increased - which is encouraging as it shows victims have the confidence in their police to deal with these offences.

“Our priority is to ensure repeat victims get the help and support they need and we will continue our focus on solving and resolving the offences that are important to the public.

With more people having that trust to report domestic violence we can protect the vulnerable and interrupt the cycles of abuse that victims go through.”

Michael Oarton, 26, of no fixed abode was jailed yesterday after appearing at Norwich Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to two offences of assault on his partner - the second of which breached a bail condition not to contact her.

For the assault on January 1 Oarton was sentenced to 24 weeks custody reduced to 16 weeks because of his early guilty plea and for the assault on January 6, which happened while on bail, he sentenced to 26 weeks, which was reduced by a third for early guilty plea. The custody periods are to run concurrently.

He was also made the subject of a restraining order.

John Etchels, 57, of Palmer Road, Norwich, pleaded guilty to two offences of assault on his wife on December 19 last year and January 1 this year. Sentencing was adjourned until February 1 but he was warned that he could face custody.

Paul Batchelor, 30, of Bentley Way, Norwich, appeared charged with assaulting his partner on October 2 and with harassment without violence between October 2 and November 24. He pleaded guilty to both offences and was given a 12 month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to undertake six months supervision with probation, pay prosecution costs of £35 and not contact, directly or indirectly, the victim or go within 100 metres of her address.

Jamie Dunnett, 23, of Runcton Close, West Earlham, appeared charged with assault by beating on December 26. He pleaded guilty but will be sentenced on February 1 so a report can be prepared. Although he was warned all options were open.

Have you escaped domestic violence? Contact Peter Walsh at peter.walsh@archant.co.uk.

Cases before the court

Michael Oarton, 26, of no fixed abode was jailed after pleading guilty to two offences of assault on his partner - the second of which breached a bail condition not to contact her.

Lisa Mayne, prosecuting, said the victim, who had been in a relationship with Oarton since December 2009, had experienced elements of abuse from Oarton throughout the relationship as a result of his drinking and drug taking. Mrs Mayne said that on one occasion Oarton came home with a Samurai sword and threatened to cut off a cat’s head and also to cut her legs off.

She said the couple had both been out on New Year’s Eve but had been turned away from a number of establishments because Oarton, whom his partner had never seen that drunk, was being very loud.

The court heard that they went back to her place and Oarton had become “enraged” because of the length of time she had spent on the phone to a friend.

“She ended the call, an argument started and he threw a drink at her.” An argument ensued and Oarton followed the victim to the bathroom where he made her sit in the bath and proceeded to “pick up objects and throw bottles at her while she was in the bath.”

The court heard Oarton laughed as he did so and Mrs Mayne said the victim had never felt so “degraded”. When she put her arm in the door in an attempt to get out Oarton “slammed the bathroom door shut on her arm causing bruising”. He then followed her to the kitchen where he picked up a knife and “started scraping it up and down his arm. He said it’s like a butter knife, but I could still damage you with it”.

He then followed her to the living room where he made more verbal threats before throwing her across the room causing her to bang her head. He then pulled her hair and banged her head.

Mrs Mayne said Oarton was arrested and granted bail on the condition that he does not contact the victim. But on January 5 Oarton started trying to call her and left messages saying he was going to go to her flat.

She went back to her flat and found him outside. He seemed calm and she let him in only for an argument to ensue. He threw a mobile phone at her eye and took some scissors from her make- up bag and stabbed her in the chest leaving two small puncture wounds.

Chris Brown, mitigating, said: “There were two big arguments between the couple, but Oarton wasin his position as a bigger and stronger than the victim.”person.

Mr Brown said: “We’re dealing with a toxic relationship, one where neither party was averse to reverting to physical behaviour on previous occasions.”.

For the assault on January 1 Oarton was sentenced to 24 weeks custody reduced to 16 weeks because of his early guilty plea and for the assault on January 6, which happened while on bail, he sentenced to 26 weeks, which was reduced by a third for early guilty plea. The custody periods are to run concurrently.

He was also made the subject of a restraining order meaning he must not contact the victim directly or indirectly and must not enter Sale Road. The order will run until a further one is made.

John Etchels, 57, of Palmer Road, off Jewson Road, Upper Hellesdon, Norwich,, Norwich, pleaded guilty to two offences of assault on his wife on December 19 last year and January 1 this year.

Sentencing was adjourned until February `1 but he was warned that he could face custody.

Lisa Mayne, prosecuting, said Etchels and his wife had been in a relationship for two-and-a-half years and married for the past eight months. She said that on December 19 Etchels returned to his home address heavily intoxicated which led to an argument between the couple with his wife stating that she was “not happy with the way things were”. ““He said he wanted to kill her. He picked up a broom handle, struck her three to four times and punched her to the face three or four times.”

Mrs Mayne said the victim sustained bruising below the right eye and the defendant apologised for his actions. She said that on January 1 Etchels again returned to the address “extremely intoxicated” leading to a verbal argument. “He then picked up a baseball bat” and threatened her but she managed to contact her father who called the police.

Michael Cole, mitigating, said Etchels had been working in the automotive trade as a parts man until he was made redundant in 2008 and because of the recession. He said Etchels found this “extremely demoralising”. He said: “She was working and he was on benefits which for a man who had worked all his life was degrading to his feeling of being a man and a breadwinner”.

Mr Cole said repeated arguments broke out between the couple as a result of her reminding him that two years had passed and he still did not have a job and she was the breadwinner which made him and making him feel “inadequate”.

Mr Cole added that Etchels had since voluntarily sought help from Norcas for his drinking as part of a bid to “bring about reconciliation and rejuvenation of their relationship”. He also had two job interviews.

He was granted bail with the condition that he does not contact his wife.

Paul Batchelor, 30, of Bentley Way, near Weston Road, Norwich, appeared charged with assaulting his partner on October 2 and with harassment without violence between October 2 and November 24. He pleaded guilty to both offences and was given a 12 month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to undertake six months supervision with probation, pay prosecution costs of £35 and not contact, directly or indirectly, the victim or go within 100 metres of her address for the next 12 months..

Lisa Mayne, prosecuting, said the couple had been in a relationship since February 2010. And despite being together for a short while she said the victim found the relationship “very intense” and the defendant “quite controlling”.

She said the victim ended the relationship after just a month and a half but it restarted again in July 2010 by which time he had become “more and more possessive and quite controlling towards her”.

On October 2 she came home after not feeling well, The defendant was at home and she “walked past him not asking how his day was and this caused friction”.

Mrs Mayne said the couple started to argue. He wanted her to go to bed but she wanted to watch TV. She said: “He grabbed her by the face. He demanded she go to bed with him.” Mrs Mayne said he then “grabbed her by the throat” for five to 10 seconds before punching a picture on the wall.

She went to bed and just laid there and ended the relationship the next day. But since splitting with the defendant she had “no end of grief from defendant as regards to phone calls, texts and messages on social networking sites.”

The court heard that repeated attempts to contact her via these means resulted in her contacting the police who issues an anti-harassment warning. But still the attempts to contact her continued, including on one occasion him biking to her house, and on November 24 she contacted police.

James Burrows, mitigating, said his client had pleaded guilty to the offences and co-operated with the police. He said Batchelor was remorseful and accepted his behaviour and added it “gave him no pleasure to be here”.

He said the assault was not about “sexual gratification” and he had only wanted her to go up to bed so he could talk to her. He said he had “some controlling issues borne out of three previous relationships where the partner has left him for another man.”

Matthew Bishop, 26, of Goodman Square, off Old Palace Road, Norwich, appeared charged with one offence of assault by beating on 21 September and another of criminal damage to property valued under £5,000 on the same date.

He pleaded guilty to both offences and was sentenced to a 12 month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work which was reduced to 100 hours for his guilty plea. He was also ordered to six months supervision with probation and must undertake a six day low intensity alcohol requirement.

He must also pay £25 towards prosecution costs and £100 compensation to the victim. Magistrates also made him the subject of a restraining order. meaning he must not contact the victim, directly or indirectly, or go within 100 metres of her address for the next 12 months.

Lisa Mayne, prosecuting, said that on the day of the assault he attended her house with four cans of beer and was under the influence of alcohol. A verbal argument started and he grabbed her by the throat and squeezed causing reddening to the neck. He also grabbed her by the arm causing bruising.

In terms of the criminal damage he smashed a bathroom window after visiting the property.

Simon Nicholls, representing Bishop, said that the victim should not seek to contact Goodman either after he was made the subject of the restraining order.

Jamie Dunnett<PIC>, 23, of Runcton Close, West Earlham, appeared charged with assault by beating on December 26. He pleaded guilty but will be sentenced on February 1 so a report can be prepared, a. Although he was warned all options were open.

Samuel Bellerby, 23, of Bond Street, off Dereham Road, Norwich, was charged with one count of criminal damage to property under £5,000 belonging to his partner on 27 December. He pleaded guilty and was given a 12 month conditional discharge ordered to pay costs of £85 and compensation to the victim of £80.

Also in court

Marcus Browne, 40, of Beverley Road, off Ranworth Road, North Earlham, Norwich, appeared at Norwich Magistrates charged with one count of assault on December 6 2010 and two counts of threats to kill his wife on December 6. He spoke only to confirm his name and was committed to Norwich Crown Court for a hearing on February 8. He was remanded in custody.

Lee Palin, 40, of Town Farm, Stretton on Fosse, Gloucestershire, appeared charged with assault by beating on December 25. He pleaded not guilty and now faces a trial at Norwich Magistrates on February 23. He has been released on bail but must not contact, directly or indirectly, the victim, except through a solicitor.solictor.

Terrence Dale, 24, of College Road, off Earlham Road, Norwich, appeared before the court charged with harassment, breach of a restraining order, on December 25. He also appeared in relation to a fail to stop when required to by police officer offence on December 25. No pleas were entered and he was given bail until the next hearing on February 22 on the condition that he does not go within 100 metres of the home address of his partner.

Peter Woodbine, 41, of Flowerdew Close, Hethersett, appeared charged with harassment, breach of a restraining order, on December 31 2010. The case has been adjourned until January 18.

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