Jail warning for Norwich man who headbutted wife

A man who pleaded guilty to headbutting his wife - the third assault on the same woman in less than a year - has been warned he will be jailed if he offends again.

John Etchels, 57, appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court yesterday to be sentenced after pleading guilty to an offence of assault by beating on August 26 at an earlier hearing.

Etchels, of Paragon Place, off Earlham Road, Norwich, was given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work in the next year after the court heard it had been the third assault on the same woman in a year.

Deputy District Judge Elizabeth Harte said: 'The courts will not tolerate assaults of this nature and most certainly not tolerate three such assaults within a year.'

The court heard that Etchels had previously been convicted for two offences of assault against the same woman, which occurred on December 19 last year and January 1 this year.

Etchels, who pleaded guilty to both offences, was given a two-year supervision order including an alcohol treatment requirement in February.

Lisa Britton, prosecuting, said things had been 'going well' since the previous offences, but the latest assault had been the culmination of three to four weeks when he began to 'drink heavily again'.

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Miss Britton said on the day in question, Etchels had gone out at 11.30am and his wife had joined him for lunch at 2.15pm. She said his wife went home to 'cook his dinner' while Etchels stopped off at another pub.

He returned at about 4pm, but did not eat his meal and left the house again before returning at about 9pm when it was 'obvious he was drunk' as he was 'slurring his words' and 'offered' his wife 'verbal abuse', including the words 'I hate you, I'm going to kill you'.

Miss Britton said: 'She said she'd had enough and was going to leave.'

At this point, she said, Etchels stood up on the sofa and approached her before grabbing her wrists and leaning forward to headbutt her. He then punched her on the shoulder with clenched fists.

Miss Britton added: 'She shouts at him to get off and leave her alone. She pushes him off and goes round to a friend's house...and the police are called.'

Simon Nicholls, representing Etchels, said his wife wanted to 'try and make a go of it slowly'. He added: 'He (Etchels) needs the threat of prison over his head.'

The Evening News's Don't Suffer in Silence campaign aims to highlight the problem of domestic violence.

Have you got a crime story? Call Evening News reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk