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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Attacked woman looked like 'zombie hit in face with axe' - court

A Cumbrian pensioner whose wife suffered appalling injuries after he attacked her at a family gathering has walked free from a court.

Henry Huddart photo
Henry Huddart

The injuries sustained by 69-year-old Eleanor Huddart on the day she was attacked were later described as being so severe that she looked like a zombie which had been hit in the face by an axe.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Mrs Huddart’s estranged husband Henry, 68, was given a six-month community order for attacking her.

He had earlier admitted twice assaulting her, causing actual bodily harm.

The victim’s niece, Joanne Waite, 44, was last month cleared of also attacking Mrs Huddart after she staggered into a room covered in blood, having been punched in the face by her husband.

Miss Waite denied injuring Mrs Huddart further, saying she had been in a state of terror, and threw “girlie punches” at her aunt because she believed she was some kind of “zombie” thing”.

In court yesterday, prosecutor Tim Evans said the second assault admitted by Huddart, of Casson Road, Workington, reflected a previous “incident” or “incidents” of domestic violence he had inflicted on his wife, his partner for 12 years.

The barrister did not refer to a claim made in the trial of Miss Waite that Mrs Huddart had been so afraid of her husband that she had a lock fitted to her bedroom door at the couple’s house.

On the day of the assault last July, the Huddarts were having a barbecue at their home in Workington, and Miss Waite was among the guests. Medical evidence later showed Mrs Huddart – punched in the face by her husband at least once – suffered a fractured eye socket and severe bruising. She said she had remembered nothing after that punch.

“She also lost consciousness for a time,” said Mr Evans, adding that the Crown could not say with certainty which blow caused the fracture.

The court was told Huddart spent five and a half months in custody on remand waiting for the trial but then entered his guilty pleas on the day the case was due to go before a jury.

He is now living in a home in the Maryport area. Mrs Huddart had said she could not bear the idea of him returning home because of his psychological problems caused by drinking.

Marion Weir, for Huddart, said the defendant – a man of previous good character – had found dealing with the proceedings and with custody a very difficult experience.

She said: “His support worker says he is doing well, and since his release he hasn’t touched alcohol and he doesn’t intend to do so.

Describing his offences as “nasty”, Judge Barbara Forrester told Huddart: “It does appear that your behaviour on these two occasions was because of your drinking and because of your medical problems, though that does not make it any less serious.”

She was satisfied he could be appropriately sentenced without a jail term. The judge imposed the community order on the condition that Huddart stays at the Maryport home he is currently in, and where he is supervised by Social Services.

The judge also imposed a three-year restraining order that forbids the defendant from contacting his wife other than through a solicitor. Stuart Pattinson, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS in Cumbria, said: “I would wish to pay tribute to Mrs Huddart for showing great courage in the face of difficult circumstances in having to give evidence against a member of her own family.

“The Crown Prosecution Service and the police are wholly committed to tackling domestic violence in Cumbria and I would like to encourage anyone who has experienced such violence to come forward and not suffer in silence.”

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